Africa Embodied:
The Language of Adornment

Africa Embodied: The Language of Adornment focuses on how various African cultures use body art to communicate ideas and beliefs related to social organization, spirituality, gender roles, and nonverbal expression. Body art in Africa encompasses not just body decoration, but any medium that refers to the human form, including textiles, sculpture, and painting.

All of the objects in this exhibition address the body, either by providing bodily surface decoration or by representing the human form in some way. Social conventions created by the community shape the meaning of these objects and inform their creation and use. In turn, these objects aid the social organization of the community, many establishing the status of their owner, others helping clarify gender roles. Some objects provide a means of communication with the spiritual world, while others aid social communication by allowing people to express themselves nonverbally.

While the objects in this exhibition stand removed from their social contexts, students in Skidmore College’s African Body Arts course have provided contextual information, relying on scholarly research into the relevant communities and artistic traditions. Since an exhibition of this nature is in itself a western construct, the information provided in this exhibit necessarily offers a western view of African cultures, an incomplete outsider’s view that attempts to get as close as it can to these people’s lives and communities.

Africa Embodied: The Language of Adornment comprises objects both from the Tang Collection and on loan from a private collector. The exhibition is curated by Lisa Aronson, Associate Professor of Art History at Skidmore College, and students from her AH 375 class, African Body Arts.

Exhibition Name
Africa Embodied:
The Language of Adornment
Exhibition Type
Student Curated
Faculty Curated
Place
Winter Gallery
Dates
Nov 29, 2001 - Dec 21, 2001
Curators
This exhibition is curated by Lisa Aronson, Associate Professor of Art History, Skidmore College, with students in "African Body Arts" (AH 375F).
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