Introduction to African Art and Visual Culture: 100 African Objects
Image: Robert and Lillian Montalto Bohlen Gallery of African Art, UM Museum of ArtThis course offers an introduction to the rich and varied visual practices of Africa. We begin by considering the images of Africa with which we, in America, are familiar, and how these images communicate what (we think) we know about Africa. What ideas come to mind when we encounter places like The Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World? Or view music videos like Taylor Swift's 'Wildest Dreams'? While these may seem benign and entertaining experiences, they, in fact, evoke an incomplete and distorted understanding of the continent.
Throughout the semester, we will confront these stereotypes through an examination of 100 compelling objects representing a variety of visual practices, both historical and contemporary. For example, studying Southern African rock art (ca. 26,000 BCE) or Kuba royal sculptures (17th century CE), offer evidence of a continent with a history, thus countering the idea that African societies are 'frozen in time' and that their 'traditions' never change. The contemporary work of artists based in Africa's cities whose paintings, sculptures, and installations can be seen in museums worldwide, demonstrate the global impact of a continent that is often dismissed as contributing little to the modern world.
Particular attention will be given to how Africa is represented in the museum and students will be provided exceptional opportunities to study the African collections at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
HISTART category for concentration distributions: B. Sub-Saharan Africa, 4. Modern and Contemporary.