College displaying part of African Art Collection in Andrews

Andrews Hall is currently hosting a part of Marietta College's African Art Collection in the Fireplace Lounge and in the basement (or the "Pit).

The artwork will remain on display through March 7.

"This selection of objects from Marietta College’s Permanent Art Collection celebrates the rich cultures of Africa," said Dr. Chaya Chandrasekhar, Israel Ward Andrews Associate Professor. "The objects range primarily from the regions of West Africa, to the Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) in Central Africa, and reveal the varied stylistic traditions of these areas. Much of the art seen here, was not made as ‘art for art sake,’ purely to be displayed and viewed, but instead would have served ritual or ceremonial functions. The objects would have played a vital role in ceremonies aimed at bridging the gap between the earthly and spiritual realms."

Chandrasekhar also said the masks and helmets on display would have served as receptacles for spiritual beings that were vivified through dance and music and would have facilitated the transformative process of the wearer during the ritual performances. In style, they range from more naturalistic, simple wooden faces, to ones that are highly expressionistic and with elaborate projecting forms and embellishments of shells, seeds, and even animal skulls. 

The objects on exhibit date from the 20th century. Since most African art was made from wood or other perishable natural materials, which tended to deteriorate quickly in the sub-Saharan climate, few objects of great antiquity from the continent survive. In the 20th century, the traditional arts of Africa found admirers the world over and fueled an interest in collecting (although the works were largely misunderstood). The inventiveness and vitality of African imagery influenced early 20th century European artists and served as inspiration for the development of modern art. 

After Spring Break the College will have a display of early American artifacts through May 3 in Andrews Hall.