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Power, Beauty, and Wisdom: Women in African Art from the Mehta Collection

November 09 through January 26, 2020

On view in the Atrium, Blackmon, and Weil Galleries


Power, Beauty, and Wisdom: Women in African Art from the Mehta Collection features 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.


This exhibition was curated by Amanda Hellman, PhD and organized by the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia.


Alabama State Council on the Arts


Helen A. Till

Exhibition preview



Featured image:

Photography of the 2019 installation at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Montgomery, Alabama.