The brainchild of the Smithsonian Institute and the Fowler
Museum at UCLA, Inscribing Meaning: Writing and Graphic
Systems in African Art demonstrates the psychological, political,
spiritual, healing and historic power and beauty of words and symbols across
many mediums in Africa.
The exhibit is wonderfully curated—Inscribing Meaning
brings together works of art from a range of periods, regions, genres and
peoples and considers the interplay between African art and the communicative
power of graphic systems, language, and the written word.
Some personal favorites include works by Tshibumba
Kanda-Matulu, Kim Berman and Durant Sihlali, which shed new light unto political
dilemmas in Democratic Republic of Congo and South
Africa. Ali Omar Ermes’ Contradictions of Joy was another favorite of mine-- a gold canvas
which explored the rhythmic aspects of language, and the meaning and ecstasy
created when the visual, verbal and script are linked. On my way out, a female
figure representing a Baule man’s otherworld spouse caught my eye. I felt myself
drawn to this poised figure despite different cultural definitions of beauty as
shown in her features, pose, coiffure and scarification patterns.
Very exciting, inspiring and eye-opening, I recommend
everyone to make a trip to the Fowler before February ’08. It’ll be an
amazingly refreshing perspective.