Africa art collection continent essay mother thou

During the last half-century, many writers on ethnology, anthropology, and slavery have strenuously striven to place the Negro outside of the human family; and the disciples of these teachers have endeavored to justify their views by the most dehumanizing treatment of the Negro. But, fortunately for the Negro and for humanity at large, we live now in an epoch when race malice and sectional hate are disappearing beneath the horizon of a brighter and better future.

Africa art collection continent essay mother thou

They need resources, and that includes not just materials but community, also, and they need patronage. The needs of an artist who works strictly on canvas are quite different from those of an installation or performance artist, or an urban street artist tagging buildings and walls.

So, I would like to look at the question in terms of challenges rather than needs, but then, again, the continent is a vast place, and I hate to think of it as a uniform, monolithic space. The challenges that an artist might face in a city like Johannesburg with its ecosystem of galleries, museums, university departments, art patrons and prizes, as well as popular and academic critical presence, are understandably different from what one might find in other places where such infrastructures may be rudimentary or not quite as efficiently integrated.

Artists who live and practice outside the continent face their own unique set of challenges, and this is often lost on people on the continent who may think that living abroad is living in Paradise A good portion of my book, The Culture Gameis devoted to looking at some of these challenges. Often these artists have to contend with highly competitive environments where even locals have considerable difficulty finding a footing.


Those of them who arrive fully made, as it were, without having studied studio practice in the West, find that the environment is often less receptive to their language, by which I mean the peculiar style and sometimes thematic leaning of their work. It is no coincidence that the most successful African artists abroad are those who received all or a major part of their training in the countries where they practice.

This is something that hardly anyone picks up on. For those who have the critical advantage of growing up or studying in the West, there are unique challenges still, but one must say that a great deal has changed over the past seventeen years or so, especially since some of us began to raise issues with conventions of mainstream access.

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That may not sound like progress, but it is in many ways. Obviously, patronage is a critical issue, and, interestingly enough, the vast majority of African artists practicing in the West have far less access to any form of viable or sustainable patronage or support structure than do those who live and practice on the continent.

In many parts of the US, for instance, talented local artists are able to survive thanks to state and local foundation grants and other support programs.

Often, these grants are exclusive to citizens. In many instances, artists have to be part of certain communities or social networks in order to access such support or even learn about their availability or existence.

So, you need to be logged into the right networks, and many African artists who live and practice abroad are not.

Africa art collection continent essay mother thou

Without such visibility or notice, they stand no chance of being picked up by galleries or having their works placed in important shows. No gallery or dealer representation means no major sales or acquisitions, almost certainly no museum acquisitions, no mainstream reviews and therefore no exposure to collectors and patrons, no proper documentation, no access to art fairs or auctions, and no significant commissions.

They end up permanently consigned to the outside and to perpetual invisibility, and not for lack of talent, but for lack of access to adequate support.

A keen and visionary network of African patrons and supporters could make it a voluntary duty and historic responsibility to sustain such artists and levitate their work and practice, and make sure that they do not slip precipitously through the numerous cracks in the system like others did in prior eras, but instead last long enough to find their due place in art history.

Already, galleries are tapping into this group, but not always in a pattern that promotes a sense of vision. What would be interesting to see is more Africans entrepreneurs entering the market and building networks that could eventually evolve into what I referred to earlier as an ecosystem.

Such an ecosystem needs not exist or operate parallel to the mainstream, quite the contrary: Now, if I may, I would like to return rather briefly to the question of the needs of artists who live and practice on the continent. While it is difficult to address the individual needs of artists with any exactitude, it safe, nonetheless, to mention the dire absence of competent critical mechanisms in most parts of the continent, including basic popular criticism in the news media.

This is an issue that I addressed back inwhich is that a fairly rigorous culture of criticism is essential for any community of practitioners to push against in order to inject constant dynamism into practice. So far, not much has changed since then. Over the past decade, an increasing number of emerging practitioners have come abroad to receive training in curatorial practice, and then, return to the continent to initiate shifts and changes.

It may not be a terrible idea to conceive of like programs that identify talented practicing journalists with good keen interest in the arts, who could be offered training fellowships abroad to acquire proper skills for critical art writing that they could take back to their communities.

Currently, there are two forms of intervention regarding the needs of artists on the continent that I think might portend problems. One is continuing the old practice of sending canvas and oil tubes or even crayons and brown paper.

The second, which is more recent, is organising exclusive prizes for artists who live and practice on the continent while the prizes are juried in Europe. While such prizes obviously create incentives to encourage artists, some of them also run the risk of establishing trends that entire communities of artists may come to regard as preferable or likelier to meet international tastes and expectations.

The results could unsavory. Olu Oguibe is Professor of art and African American studies at University of Connecticut, and a practicing artist and occasional curator.Marvin Klotz (PhD, New York University) is a professor of English emeritus at California State University, Northridge, where he taught for thirty-three years and won Northridge's distinguished teaching award in He is also the winner of two Fulbright professorships (in Vietnam and Iran) and was a National Endowment for the Arts Summer Fellow $ The table below presents an abbreviated geologic time scale, with times and events germane to this essay.

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