In its 25th year in the Blount Cultural Park, the MMFA is proud to welcome a new collecting area. The African Art collection of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts was inaugurated in 2013 with a gift of 32 objects created by 23 different ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century. Masks, figurative sculptures, stools and chairs, textiles, and a variety of other objects provide vivid evidence of the daily lives and diverse religious beliefs of the people who made and used them.
To introduce this new collection to the community, the Museum has organized Art for Life’s Sake with consulting curator for African art Robin Poynor. Professor Poynor is a member of the faculty in the University of Florida’s Department of Art and Art History and is affiliated with the Center for African Studies. Many of the cultural traditions for which these objects were created no longer exist or have changed significantly as people now choose to live lives impacted by national and international political structure, western-style educational systems, and conversion to religions such as Christianity or Islam. Traditional African art was not made for display in galleries and museums, but was employed for everyday activities, for indicating rank within a leadership hierarchy, for educational purposes, or for use in religious ritual. In most instances the art exhibited here would have been part of a larger multi-media event that involved processions, music, and dance. This installation gives insight into a variety of objects, and how they were used in the context of African life in traditional societies. The objects in Art for Life’s Sake were all made in the twentieth century, and represent art by 33 traditional African cultural groups. The installation contains 32 objects donated to the MMFA in 2013 by Dileep and Martha Mehta, and 30 objects on loan from their private collection.
Above: Photograph of the 2014 installation of the exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
This installation gives insight into a variety of objects, and how they were used in the context of African life in traditional societies.
Organized by the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.
Support for this exhibition was provided in part by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.