Tumelo Mosaka on New Opa-locka Art Exhibit “Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Sculptures from Africa”

Through August 28 a brand-new art exhibition Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Sculptures from Africa will be shown at the ARC, at 675 Ali-Baba Avenue in Opa-locka. The free exhibit will give visitors a nice introduction to African art. Curator Tumelo Mosaka hopped on the Jitney to tell us more about what to expect.

What inspired Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Sculptures from Africa?

Tumelo Mosaka: In 2018 gallerist and art dealer, Bill Karg donated a collection of Contemporary African Art to Opa-locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC). The collection is important to OLCDC because it offers a lens into looking at the influence of Africa within the contemporary. Given the history of Opa-locka influenced by North Africa, this collection further extended the dialogue of past and present cultural connections and how we continue to grapple with misconceptions of Africa’s contribution to global culture. The exhibition “Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Sculpture from Africa” is focused on the three dimensional work from the collection. It features 40 works of art including stone Shona carvings from Zimbabwe, ebony Makonde carvings from Mozambique and Tanzania, and a selection of drawings by Malangatana Valente Ngwenya from Mozambique and Ouattara Watts from Ivory Coast.

What was your process in selecting the art chosen for the exhibition?

The selection of works in the exhibition “Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Sculpture from Africa” was mainly influenced by trying to understand the relationships between the different works in the collection. While some artists chose to fragment and distort the figure, others depicted nature as the primary source to describe their human condition. At the same time, the material was important to see the level of craftsmanship, which is fast evolving as technology becomes the source of material in the 21st Century.

What are some of the interactive programs that coincide with this exhibition?

The exhibition “Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Sculpture from Africa” includes an educational resource center where visitors can look at research texts, children’s books and a series of short films focused on the artwork in the exhibition. The exhibition is located at the Opa-locka ARC, 675 Ali Baba Avenue, Opa-locka, FL 33054.  Guests can book a free ticket at www.olcdc.org/beyondtradition or attend on Second Saturdays from 1-5pm when there will be a monthly program including an Afrobeats Dance Party, African Marketplace, African Textile Workshop and more.

Much of the art is from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania, where do you recommend (books, websites) people should go to learn more about their art?

Resources that can be found in the exhibition’s educational resource center include books and short films featuring the sculptural traditions and practice of the Shona people from Zimbabwe, and Makonde from Mozambique and Tanzania.

BOOKS

Fouguer, Roger. The Makonde and their Sculpture, 1972. National Arts of Tanzania.

Kingdon, Zachary. A Host of Devils: The History and Context of the Making of Makonde Spirit Sculpture, 2002. Routledge; 1st edition.  

Moore, Gerald and Beier, Ulli. The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry, 2007. Penguin Classics; 4th edition.

Mor, F. Shona Sculpture, 1987. Jongwe; 1st edition.

Ponter, Anthony and Ponter Laura. Spirit in Stone: The New Face of African Art, 2005. kama Press/Spirits in Stone, Inc.; 2nd edition.

Winter-Irving, Celia. Pieces of Time: An anthology of articles on Zimbabwe’s stone sculpture, 2004. Mambo Press.

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Atinuke, Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country, 2019. Walker Books. (children’s book)

Burnes-Knight, Margy, Sibley O’Brien, Anne. Africa is Not a Country, 2002. First Avenue Editions; Illustrated edition.

Onyefulu, Ifeoma. A is for Africa, 1997. Puffin Books; Reprint edition.

Professor, Baby. Interesting Facts About The Ancient African Art, 2017. Baby Professor.

FILMS

Great Zimbabwe: Museum Preserves Ancient City, 2.24 minutes

Makonde: Carving Through Life, 5.35 minutes

Recalling the Future Art in Contemporary Art, Dak’Art International Contemporary Art Bienneal, Dakar, Senegal, 2015. 48.02 minutes

Talking Stones: Shona Sculpture of Zimbabwe, 29.13 minutes 

Is there anything people should know about African art before walking into this exhibit?

What is important is to have an open mind. No one expects you to know everything. What is expected is to have a point of view once seeing the show which does not have to be positive but rather stands as a reflection of engagement. With such an attitude we can learn a lot because everyone brings something to the show.

What do you hope visitors take away from Beyond Tradition: Contemporary Sculptures from Africa?

My hope is that visitors will appreciate the diversity and complexity of the work and be able to reflect on the long traditions that continue to thrive and transform on the continent. That culture is not static and that Africa is not a country.

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David Rolland

David Rolland edits the Jitney blog. He is the author of the novels Yo-Yo & The End of the Century.