Through the prism of America's most enduring African-inspired art form, the Lowcountry basket, Grass Roots guides readers across 300 years of American and African history. In scholarly essays and beautiful photographs, Grass Roots follows the coiled basket along its transformation on two continents from a simple farm tool once used for processing grain to a work of art and a central symbol of African and African American identity. Featuring images of the stunning work of contemporary basket makers from South Carolina to South Africa, as well as historic photographs that document the artistic heritage of the southern United States, Grass Roots appears at a moment when public recognition of the Gullah/Geechee heritage is encouraging a reexamination of Africa's contribution to American civilization.
Working with basket makers from Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, historian Dale Rosengarten has been studying African-American baskets for over 20 years and brings her research up-to-date with interviews of artists and the results of recent historical inquiry. Anthropologist Enid Schildkrout draws on her research in West Africa and museum collections around the world to explore the African antecedents of Lowcountry basketry. Geographer Judith A. Carney discusses the origins of rice in Africa and reveals how enslaved Africans brought to America not only rice seeds but, just as important, the technical know-how that turned southern coastal forests and swamps into incredibly profitable rice plantations. Historian Peter H. Wood discusses the many skills that enslaved Africans contributed to the settlement of the Old South and at the same time used to resist the conditions of their servitude. John Michael Vlach, a leading authority on African American folk art, discusses the history of visual depictions of plantation life. Fath Davis Ruffins, a specialist on the imagery of popular culture, sheds light on the history embedded in old photographs of African Americans in the Charleston area. Cultural historian Jessica B. Harris explores the tradition of rice in American cooking and the enduring African influences in the southern kitchen. Anthropologist and art historian Sandra Klopper sketches the history of coiled basketry in South Africa, illuminating its evolution from utilitarian craft to fine art, parallel to developments in America. Anthropologist J. Lorand Matory traces the changing meanings of Gullah/Geechee identity and discusses its appearance as a significant force on the American cultural scene today.
Humor and Violence examines the rich history of portraying Europeans in Central African art in images ranging from heart-wrenching scenes of human trafficking to playful parodies of colonialists. Z. S. Strother contends that the dialectic of humor and violence reveals deep insights into the psychology of power and resistance that continues to operate in the region today. Her argument is built on a set of works of art and demonstrates the important role that patronage and political and social history played in their creation. Strother conveys Central African ideas about how the therapeutic power of humor can initiate social change and upset power relations between oppressors and oppressed. This analysis plunges seemingly benign figures into a maelstrom of violence and crime-rape, murder, torture, and forced labor on a massive scale. By restoring the dialectic of humor, it reveals the complicated psychological codependency of Africans and Europeans over a long period of history and maintains that art plays a mediating function in the mechanics and ethics of power.
Sudanese artist, writer, critic, cultural diplomat Ibrahim El-Salahi (born 1930) is one of the critical figures of African and Arabic modernism. While serving as Sudan's Undersecretary of Culture in 1975, El-Salahi was imprisoned without trial and endured six months of deprivation in the notorious Cooper (now Kober) Prison. During a period of house arrest that followed, he exorcised his experience in the Prison Notebook, an intensely personal work that is both a major historical document and a masterpiece of drawing, its pages filled with remarkable pen-and-ink drawings that demonstrate the artist's graphic mastery. This bilingual English-Arabic volume, published by The Museum of Modern Art and the Sharjah Art Foundation, comprises a facsimile of the Prison Notebook (recently acquired by MoMA); an English translation of its prose; a contextualizing essay by art historian Salah Hassan that addresses the social and political milieu in which it was produced; and contemporary commentary by the artist, captured in a recent interview.
The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art asks how the black figure was depicted by artists from the non-Western world. Beginning with ancient Egypt--positioned properly as part of African history--this volume focuses on the figure of the black as rendered by artists from Africa, East Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. The aesthetic traditions illustrated here are as diverse as the political and social histories of these regions. From Igbo Mbari sculptures to modern photography from Mali, from Indian miniatures to Japanese prints, African and Asian artists portrayed the black body in ways distinct from the European tradition, even as they engaged with Western art through the colonial encounter and the forces of globalization.
This volume complements the vision of art patrons Dominique and Jean de Menil who, during the 1960s, founded an image archive to collect the ways that people of African descent have been represented in Western art from the ancient world to modern times. A half‐century later, Harvard University Press and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research completed the historic publication of The Image of the Black in Western Art--ten books in total--beginning with Egyptian antiquities and concluding with images that span the twentieth century. The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art reinvigorates the de Menil family's original mission and reorients the study of the black body with a new focus on Africa and Asia.
South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere (born 1984) is one of a new generation of South African artists working across media to develop new narrative modes and forms of political action. His work shows how racism and injustice are elided from history.
The nomadic people who inhabit the valley share a gift for body painting and elaborate adornments borrowed from nature, and Hans Silvester has captured the results in a series of photographs made over the course of numerous trips.
Why has the home of a Yoruba river goddess become a UNESCO World Heritage site and a global attraction? Every year, tens of thousands of people from around the world visit the sacred grove of Osun, Osogbo's guardian deity, to attend her festival. Peter Probst takes readers on a riveting journey to Osogbo. He explores the history of the Osogbo School, which helped introduce one style of African modern art to the West, and investigates its intimate connection with Osun, the role of art and religion in the changing world of Osogbo, and its prominence in the global arena.
Beautifully illustrated, Portrait Photography in Africa offers new interpretations of the cultural and historical roles of photography in Africa. Twelve leading scholars look at early photographs, important photographers' studios, the uses of portraiture in the 19th century, and the current passion for portraits in Africa. They review a variety of topics, including what defines a common culture of photography, the social and political implications of changing technologies for portraiture, and the lasting effects of culture on the idea of the person depicted in the photographic image.
Prince Twins Seven-Seven (1944-2011) was not only one of Africa's most famous contemporary artists and the leader of the Osogbo School of Nigerian artists, he was known as the modern master of the Yoruba tradition in art. His work has been exhibited on every continent, is collected by major museums throughout the world, and in 2005, Prince was named UNESCO Artist for Peace. Henry Glassie blends life and art to create a vivid portrait of an extraordinary artist. This lavishly illustrated book, part biography and part artist's catalog, addresses tradition and innovation in Prince's art, the development of his personal style, the force of the supernatural in Nigerian life, and the hard times of the immigrant artist in the United States.