Art in Real Life: Traditional African Art from the Lowe Art Museum
Art in Real Life: Traditional African Art From The Lowe Art Museum is a catalogue of the Lowe’s exhibition by the same name, which was on view from November 8, 2014 through January 18, 2015. The exhibition pieces, culled from the Lowe’s permanent collection of African Art, showcase the tensions inherent in the production of art in Africa in the latter half of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Curator Dr. Marcilene Wittmer’s thoughtful selection of objects and compelling texts invite readers to reflect on the porous membrane separating art from craft, domestic from touristic, and artistic from utilitarian. Dr. Wittmer’s fine work, including the engaging essay and extended entries that follow, equally throw into high relief the impact of modern phenomena—including cultural and religious diversity, tourism, urbanization, technology, economic change, and globalization—on artistic practice in modern Africa. Art in Real Life: Traditional African Art From The Lowe Art Museum illustrates the continuing creativity and inventiveness of African artists in the face of an increasingly complex world.
As traditional African art has grown in popularity among collectors and connoisseurs around the world, the names of individual artists have become increasingly well known and their works more frequently admitted into the Western world’s conception of “Art.” Yet these same artists (who are intensely practical and understand the importance of creating works with market appeal) continue to make work that remains intimately connected to the vibrant tradition of art objects created specifically for ritual and ceremonial use. Their creations embody an inherent desire to express oneself while also addressing more prosaic needs, such as supporting one’s family. It is these works, and the creative processes and traditions associated with them, that are the subject of Art in Real Life.