This page is a record of an exhibit that took place
in 1995. The individual links below will take you to
the CURRENT VERSION of the pages
that formed part of that exhibit.

Women of Power
Aug. 2 - Sep. 30, 1995

The Hamill Gallery of African Art is pleased to present an exhibition of traditional African figures of exceptional strength. Drawn from virtually every major tribe in west and central Africa, the works are serene, timeless and in control. Encompassing a wide range of style and scale, the figures share an idealized monumentality, honoring female ancestors, spirits, founders and even earth goddesses.

They are not only what they first appear to be. Made by men, the figures honor and are used by women. Made of wood, they deny their humble origin to become spiritual icons. Made for functional use, they speak of values, styles and traditions unchanged by generations. Made for use in small villages, they impress and in-fluence non-African artists and cultures with their sculptural power.

Among the most important and best known pieces are seated Dogon and Bamana figures from Mali, the huge Nimba headdresses of the Baga, reliquary guardians of the Fang, expressive queen figures of the Bangwa, women's helmet masks from the Mende, plus works from the Lobi, Igbo and others.

These are images of, and for, women in a culture in which sexuality had a simple acceptance, but not primacy, in the depiction of the figure. Not the romantic, weak woman of the Victorian era, not the muscular heroic giantesses of Socialist Realism, not the exploited, sensuous vixen of the West; but instead figures of power, whose strength stems from the beliefs that African women, and men, invested in them.

Judge them for yourself.

FANG, Gabon, DOGON, Mali, BANGWA, Cameroon
Photograph © John Urban




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