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African Renaissances

Fri May 6 2016 – Sun Mar 4 2018

Seattle Art Museum

Fourth Floor Galleries

Things Fall Apart may be the title of a famous novel about Nigeria, but it also sums up a mistaken notion that the African continent is afflicted with only bad news.

This installation offers a realistic vision by recognizing cultural leaders who preside over kingdoms and live in thriving communities and cities. Regalia and furnishings that were originally seen in the courts of the Benin, Asante, Kom, and Kuba kingdoms are on view. Many of these kingdoms faced extreme domination by colonial powers in the early 20th century but reestablished their own power during the last half of the century. In addition, art created by Maasai, Fulani, and Ndebele women declares their views of the world.

Finally, art provided by a musical leader living in Seattle contributes a sense of how things are coming together for a 21st-century futurist renaissance.

Image: Ring: Wisdom Knot, Ghanaian, Asante, gold, 2 1/4 x 1 5/8 x 1 1/4 in., Seattle Art Museum, Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company, 81.17.399, Photo: Paul Macapia.