Thursday, October 25, 2007

a feast for the eyes

What a treat I had today! My friend Leonard Kahan invited me to an almost-private showing of the wonderful African art exhibit he had curated, which opened last week in the gallery at Queensborough Community College. The exhibit, A Cameroon World, was a rich visual feast of ritual items, sculpture, masks, textiles, and more. Leonard's friend Amadou, who is an advisor to the king, came to speak about life in Cameroon and about the objects we refer to as ART. Amazingly, there is no word for ART in Bamum, one of the only written native languages in Cameroon. Here are some of my favorites, although you can see a slide show of other works here. This figure is made of cowrie shells.The items below are beaded dancing skirts. Click on the image to see better.

Every utilitarian object is a work of art. These are dress hangers from a clothing store. Can you imagine???
A hand-embroidered dress - here is just a smidgen of the beautiful garment.
Speaking of beautiful garments, here is Amadou. I told him I wanted his clothes -- just look at that color combination! He told me that the men do the weaving and dyeing of textiles in Cameroon - as in most of Africa. Isn't he regal?It isn't fair that the men get to wear the most interesting clothing and hats. Look at this plumage -- and the pattern on the cape!Do you think you could learn to make a hat like this at Peters Valley or one of the other fine craft schools?
There was lots more, but I am beginning to feel like the person below, so I am going to bed.

I was in the studio for a couple of hours this morning and printed a couple more pieces, which I have steamed and washed and am about to put into the dryer. Tomorrow, Rachel Cochran is coming to the studio and we are going to print some more. Hooray!

4 comments:

margaret said...

Those are all so gorgeous. Was there a wooden image with lots of nails hammered in, or is that more of an ethnography thing than an art thing? Or am I getting Cameroon confused with Congo -- in one of those c-places the village lawgiver will settle a dispute by hammering in another nail to keep the disputants to their word. Interesting system! Also, so interesting that there's no word for art, art is a cultural given. Thanks for showing these; the hat especially!

Lazy Gal Tonya said...

all so fabulous. And how great to see them without a lot of people crowded in. marvelous.

Linda Branch Dunn said...

I took a course on African Art once. A very moving experience. Our world sees art as something separate, expensive, useless, other. In Africa, art is part of the everyday: the functional and the sacred. The masks, the clothes: they are meant to be USED. They have meaning, and often power. They are not meant to be seen (in fact are often kept hidden) except when USED. What a different world.

Karoda said...

Ooooo Rayna! thanks for the visual treat!!! It must have been pretty awesome up close and personal!