Art and Life in Africa
We have created a CD-ROM based program on African art, based on The Stanley
Collection at the University of Iowa Museum of Art and supplemented by additional
images from important collections across the country organized on the theme
of Art and Life in Africa. The Art and Life in Africa Interactive CD-ROM is currently available. Click here
for ordering information. Objects are placed in the context
for which they were created in the lives of African peoples. This project
is innovative in two ways: (1) objects in a museum context are recontextualized
making use of field photographs , films, maps, narration, and text, and
(2) a version of portions of the information in the program are accesible through the World Wide Web, making a valuable cultural resource accessible at institutions
which do not otherwise have access to such material locally.
Using multimedia technology, images of the objects from the Stanley Collection of African Art at the University of Iowa and other important national and international collections can be combined in the visual guide with maps, music, photographs of objects in use in Africa, video footage depicting everyday life, annotated text, and narrative commentary, all provided by the consulting scholars. Through these materials, African art objects are understood to be tools by which African cultures solve problems, resolve conflict and deal with the adversities of daily life.
Art is perhaps the most eloquent statement a people can make about themselves and serves particularly well as a tool for exploring the life and culture of an area. The passage of important life events are also marked using art objects. The text of the program follows the course of life from the cradle to the grave.
When African art objects are shown mounted in a Plexiglas case beneath hot incandescent lights in the sterile environment of a museum outside Africa or against colored backdrops in a printed text, most of the work of art created by the artist and performer is missing. The art Africans create is living art: it addresses current issues, solves pressing problems, it represents living spiritual beings. Slides alone, even context slides, cannot convey the drama of mask performances. Multimedia technology brings these objects back to life, combining explanations of African culture with pictures of the objects, music, and video of objects used in African cultures. All of this enriches the study of African Art and enables the student to develop an appreciation of how Africans make, view, and use the art which they create.
Phase two of the project is Art and Life in Africa Online, a related web site. Launched in Spring 1996, the site is continually updated with new information and images, providing a world-wide resource on African Art and Culture was launched Spring 1996.