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Who were the Heroic Africans?
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt
|Painting of Afukwa, African Queen|
|Memorial head of Afukwa|
An African terracotta sculpture inspired this watercolor painting. I viewed the sculpture as part of a special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art titled “Heroic Africans.” The exhibition takes a look at sculptural traditions from West and Central Africa created between the twelfth and early twentieth centuries and pulls together works from all over the world never before brought to an American audience. This Memorial head of Afukwa was part of a mother daughter commissioned work. I especially liked the futuristic look of the terracotta which depicted the African Princess in a robotic fashion reminiscent of a Tim Burton character. I made the drawing on site by standing in front of the glass display case with my watercolor sketch pad and a charcoal pencil I had nabbed from the drop in drawing session that was going on. The drop in drawing session in front of the Turkish carpets was fun, but so crowded I was asked to give up my stool after 30 minutes. The watercolors I added back in the studio and you can see that the colors were of my own design.
|Head of an Oba, An African King|
|Bronze Head of an Oba|
There are many portrait busts of African Kings and leaders on display. The Kings, or “Oba”, commissioned the highest skilled artisans to craft the bronze sculptures. When the King died the first task of the newly appointed King, who was the first born son, was to create a memorial bust of his father to be placed on the palace altar. Although the art was usually created posthumously, the sculptures always depicted the kings during the prime of their life. This particular bronze sculpture is from present day Nigeria. Unfortunately records no longer exist to connect which King each bronze sculpture represented.
|Tribal Art from Commemorative Throne|
I was very excited by the wooden commemorative thrones on display, These totem like thrones were carved from wood and were large and imposing rising more than life size. I loved the animated faces of the kings and queens on display. By this time my stolen pencil was beginning to dull but I had bought an overpriced pencil sharpener at the museum gift shop that allowed me to keep going. My routine was to alternate sharpening my pencil while I listened to the audio guide and sketching the compelling sculptures. I would love to return to the exhibit with a box of pre-sharpened pencils and do justice to all the magnificent African art on display. I am glad this exhibit continues through January so I can get back there when this busy holiday season wanes.
|A set of Three African Paintings add a global touch to a modern brown and blue bedroom|
Where in the world will you be this holiday season??