Power, Beauty, and Wisdom: Women in African Art from the Mehta Collection featured more than 50 objects describing the roles of women within the varied traditions of peoples distributed across the African continent. Elderly women were honored for their experience and wisdom, and their studied influence and governance was believed critical to the ultimate success or failure of their societies. Conversely, younger women were revered for their roles as paths to the future, the mothers of generations to come. Elaborate societal structures and traditions dating back centuries are preserved and conveyed through the creation and use of these carved wooden objects, reflective of the roles of women but ironically made by only men.
The works in this exhibition include traditional wooden fertility figures; stools that symbolized authority and influence; objects of adornment, such as combs; and masks used in masquerade performances that were a central element of traditional African life.
Over more than 40 years, collectors Dileep and Martha Mehta of Atlanta, Georgia, have assembled these and other works of African art.
Above: Photograph of the 2019–2020 installation of the exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
Elderly women were honored for their experience and wisdom, while younger women were revered for their roles as paths to the future.
This exhibition was curated by Amanda Hellman,PhD and organized by the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia.
Support for this exhibition was provided by the Alabama State Council on the Arts with additional support provided by co-sponsor Helen A. Till.