Written on April 8, 2011
On view until May 15th at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York is The Global Africa Project a sweeping panorama-of-an-exhibition that examines the art and design of the world-wide African diaspora. Roberta Smith of The New York Times gave the show a glowing review when it opened in December, and having seen the exhibition, I encourage you to go. It is phenomenal, eye-opening and thought-provoking.Shown here is just one facet of this multi-faceted show, the work of Cameroonian artist, Serge Mouangue, who creates kimonos, or Wafrica kimono as he calls them, from traditional African cotton textiles.Here is Mouangue’s comments on his project: “The Wafrica project is both an expression of who and where I am – it is another perspective gained from a new artistic standpoint. I now reside in Japan, but I am African. I’ve studied in France, lived in Australia, and have been fortunate to travel and connect with varying cultures. These experiences force me to ask myself again and again – from constantly changing angles – not only where we come from, but how we come from. Where do we feel our origins? What are “identity” and “values”?And shown above are two pieced quilts by Ramijabi Madarsahib and Kairumbi Karimsahib, members of the Siddi Women’s Quilting Cooperative in Karnataka, India, who are descended from East Africans who came to India as early as the 7th century as sailors, slaves, servants and merchants. Quite remarkable. But keep in mind the examples of artwork I am showing here today are just a mere fraction of the kaleidoscope of treasures on view now at the Museum of Arts and Design.Do try to visit. And don’t miss The Store, the museum shop, which is one of the most interesting retail destinations in New York.