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Re: [teacherartexchange] African Arts Education

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From: Judy Decker (judy.decker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Sun Oct 28 2007 - 13:07:02 PDT


Hi Godfrey and all,

I will try to answer your questions. My in depth research was done in
1998 so I am afraid I don't remember it all.... but what I read
sickened me and made me even more passionate about African Art. As I
told you, much of my answers are contained within the text of my
African Art Internet Lesson - and even I would have a hard time
finding them now (smile).
http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/afr-less.htm

I did have some knowledge about African Art from my college days (from
the 1970's) but that was mainly to show influence of African art on
modern art. I remember studying masks the most. My interest really
peaked when I cataloged slides for a local college branch. I saw works
of African Art that I had never seen before and the lesson ideas just
flowed (as I was to include art concepts/lessons in my review of each
slide). I was particularly interested in the Chiwara Headdresses of
the Bamana (Mali) - and of course, the masks.

>> - what kind of things does students (in western culture) learn
about African arts at their earliest ages of elementary and secondary
schools?

Masks are the dominant art form that is taught in my area. I included
the meaning behind the masks. I taught ceramic relief masks - focusing
on characteristic of African masks - not copying the masks. I did this
lesson with sixth grade a number of years and stepped it down to fifth
grade one year. We gave the works a wood-look patina with acrylic
paints and shoe polish.

I also have a fondness for cloth/textiles. My sixth graders did a unit
on paper weaving, using African motif for inspiration. I have some
African textiles that I showed them.

As mentioned earlier, I like the chi-wara - for what it stands for and
the aesthetics of the pieces. I did abstract animal sculpture with
sixth grade.

Seventh graders made ceramic boxes and prints inspired by African art
and eighth graders did ceramic vessels.

Influence of African Art on modern art was also part of my units.
Students also learned about beliefs, values of the people. Religion
was a part of many of my lessons on world cultures.

>> what was the main purpose on exportation of African art to USA or
Europe during that movement of colonial power periods in African
continent?

Greed and curiosity - I could go on here but I think you get what I am
saying. So much of what was exported was stolen from the people.
Original meaning of much of the work was lost - particularly masks of
the Dogon. No one knows the meaning of much of what was taken. Work
that was sold - went for a fraction of what it was worth... sometimes
just to give the family enough money to buy food.

>> why it was important thing for the professional art dealers,
museums or government programs and public in general being involving
on exporting it to their countries?

It is important for them to know how the work was obtained. I believe
in Mali, there is now a ban on exporting African antiquities -
although I am sure it is still available on the black market. I do
have more about this topic on my site (look under preservation of
African art - might be on that page). Museums in African (particularly
Mali, the country I studied, do not have the security in place to
prevent theft nor the funds to protect the pieces from deterioration
(insect infestations).

>> how then an african arts has been used in western cultural and
societies until today?

I imagine much of African art has been acquired as "decoration". I
purchased my African art pieces for the meaning - but also so my
students would have some authentic African art to view (many had never
gone to a museum). I do have many of my African art pieces on my site
- although photo quality is not good.

I would love to see your lecture notes. Are you willing to share them with us?

I have a lot more I could say on your questions - let me know if you
need more and I will send off list.

Regards,

Judy Decker

On 10/26/07, Godfrey mwamalumbili wrote:
>
> hi every body,
> I am preparing a lecture about african art for the university's students and art educators in Finland.
> Due to my short experiences of teaching art here in europe and in Tanzania where I come from, I found that a knowledge about african arts is very limited to the majority of westerners.
> This situation has rise up many questions into my brain especial when it is a time to prest my lectures. I found out a dificulties on where to start.
> I am keen to know and discuss about,
>
> - what kind of things does students (in western culture) learn about african arts at their earliest ages of elemental and secondary
> schools?
> - what was the main purpose on exportation of African art to USA or Europe during that movement of colonial power periods in
> African continent?
> - why it was important thing for the professional art dealers, museums or government programs and public in general being involving on
> exporting it to their countries?
> - how then an african arts has been used in western cultural and societies until today?

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