Title: ACASA newsletter
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00103115/00022
 Material Information
Title: ACASA newsletter newsletter of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association
Alternate Title: Newsletter
Physical Description: v. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: African Studies Association -- Arts Council
Publisher: The Council
Place of Publication: S.l
Publication Date: September 1989
Subjects / Keywords: Arts -- Periodicals -- Africa   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 1, no. 2 (winter 1982)-
Numbering Peculiarities: Vol. designation dropped with no. 3 (spring 1983).
General Note: Title from caption.
General Note: Vols. for Aug. 1992- include Directory of members: addendum.
General Note: Latest issue consulted: No. 34 (Aug. 1992).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00103115
Volume ID: VID00022
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 09794003
lccn - sn 92017937
 Related Items
Preceded by: Newsletter of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association

Full Text







Cover design inspired by a carving on a Lunda comb.
Logo submitted by Mary Kujawski


ACASA Board of Directors

Mary Jo Arnoldi, President
Lisa Aronson, Secretary-Treasurer

Maria Berns
David Binkley
Barbara Frank
Frederick Lamp
Philip Ravenhill
Doran Ross
Mikelle Smith-Omari
Fred Smith

Newsletter Editor


Maria Berns
University of Minnesota
Goldstein Gallery
250 McNeal Hall
St. Paul, MN 55108

Lisa Aronson
Art Department
Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(for membership information)




Letter from the President:

This is indeed a hefty issue of the
Newsletter. In addition to the News and
Announcements section, I would like to draw
your attention to several other important
sections: ACASA Initiatives for the 1990's;
Panels for the ASA Meeting in Atlanta; the
CAA News and the 1991 CAA Call for Panels;
Arnold Rubin Book Awards presented at the
Eighth Triennial Awards Banquet; the ACASA
Leadership Award Address given by Warren
d'Azevedo at the Eighth Triennial Symposium
Awards Banquet.

We have included a Triennial
Questionnaire with this Newsletter. As we
begin now to prepare for the 1992 Triennials,
we would appreciate your frank appraisal
(both good and bad points) of the recent
Symposium. There were nearly 300
registered participants at the meeting, so we
are hoping that you will take the time to fill
out the questionnaire and give us some
concrete directions for planning the next

I would also like to take this opportunity
to thank retiring Board Members Suzanne
Blier, Philip Peek and Christopher Roy for
their service these past three years. I am sure
that I speak for all of you in reserving a
special thanks for Doran H. Ross in
recognition of his outstanding leadership and
his tireless dedication as the President of
ACASA. Doran will remain on the ACASA
Board for the next year and a half as the Past
President and we look forward to his
continuing guidance.

The Board also welcomes four new
members: Maria Berns, David Binkley,
Barbara Frank and Mikelle Smith-Omari. Lisa
Aronson, Frederick Lamp, Philip Ravenhill,
and Fred Smith will continue on the Board.
Please contact me or any of the Board
Members with your concerns and suggestions
for ACASA so that we can serve you in the
coming year.

Finally, the editorship of the Newsletter
will be turned over to the able hands of Maria
Berns following this issue. Please remember


that as Maria works towards developing future
Newsletters, she will be dependent on you for
announcements and news items.

ACASA Business Meeting Minutes
Saturday, June 17, 1989
Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.

ACASA balance (minus registrations as of
June 1) is $7403.08-

Membership 228 including 10 institutional
members. The Roster was passed around
for members to make corrections. Changes
will appear in the September Newsletter.

(2) ACASA members elected new Board
Members: Maria Berns, David Binkley,
Barbara Frank, and Mikelle Smith Omari.
Phil Ravenhill will fill the remaining year term
vacated by Lisa Aronson who has taken the
post of Secretary-Treasurer.

(3) BOOK PROJECT: The Book project is
successfully underway. In the future
Members are encouraged to have an
additional 100 copies of their publications
printed for distribution to Africa.

AFRICAN ART: The next Triennial is
tentatively scheduled for St. Louis. It will be
hosted by the St. Louis Art Museum and
Washington University. The location will be
finalized this November. Members will
receive a questionnaire regarding the 8th
Triennial along with the September
Newsletter. We encourage you to take the
time to fill out the questionnaire, so that
your comments and suggestions will be
useful in planning the 1992 Triennial.

As of the Business Meeting there were only
three confirmed panels for the ASA.
Members were asked to get completed
panels to Mary Jo Arnoldi by the end of the

[The Final list of panels for the 1989 ASA in
Atlanta can be found in a separate section

in this Newsletter]

(6) 1990 CAA:
Three panels were being proposed : (1)
Festivals in Africa and Afro-Carribean (Judith
Bettelheim); (2) Recent Research in Africa
(Christopher Roy); (3) Sacrifice and Ritual
Objects in Africa & Oceania (Sarah Brett-
Smith). Chris Roy read a letter from Rhyne
regarding previous CAA. It states that he
selected for the "African" panel, one which
was not entirely African content. (Suzanne


(a) Archaeological Projects: Phil Ravenhill
proposed that ACASA match $3000 West
African Museums Project's offer of $3000 to
fund the $6000 needed to excavate an ex-
Yoruba site in the Republique du Benin. In
response, Bob Soppelsa urged that we set
up a research fund. Barbara Blackman
proposed formal applications for
archaeology projects. Ekpo Eyo asked what
how this differs from the emergency
archaeology fund proposed by Hank
Drewal? Kate Ezra noted that African
archaeologists have specific ideas and
needs that we need to consider prior to
establishing a fund.

(b) Graduate Student Fund: Rene
Bravmann asked how we could reach out to
graduate students. Doran Ross reminded
us that four student travel stipends had
been given for the Triennial. Suzanne Blier
asked if there is a channel through which
money could be given. To whom would
such requests be sent?


(a) It should be noted that African
colleagues interested in the arts can receive
a gratis membership to ACASA and need
only to apply to the Secretary-Treasurer for
inclusion on the official roster and to receive
the quarterly Newsletter.

(b) As consulting editor of Art Bulletin,
Rene Bravmann announced that the journal
welcomes submissions on African art.

(c) Sydney Kasfir passed out order forms
for her book West African Masks and


Cultural Systems. For further information,
contact Sydney at Art History Department,
Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322.

(d) There will be an African Cultural Festival
on June 24, starting at 10:00 A.M. near the
Aerospace Museum in Washington D.C.

(e) Susan Vogel announced that the Arts of
Yoruba show will be opening at the Center
for African Art in September 1989. The
public is invited to a Yoruba art symposium
at the Center on September 22-23.

(f) Ramona Austin announced that the Arts
of Yoruba exhibit will travel the Art Institute
of Chicago in the spring 1990. In
conjunction with the exhibit, the Institute will
sponsor a symposium titled "Yoruba Legacy
in Americas" (March 9, 10 & 17, 1990)

(g) Edna Bay announced Emory
University's forthcoming publication of The
Arts of Africa: An Annotated Bibliociraphy.
by Janet L Stanley, Chief Librarian, Natl.
Museum of African Art Library. ($25). To
order, write to African
Studies Association, Credit Union Building,
Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322.

(h) Ekpo Eyo is researching IKOM stone
sculpture and would like any information
available on such pieces.

(i) Judith Bettelheim is editor of a new
Garland series, Monographs and
Bibliographies in Ethnic Art for which she is
seeking proposals.

(j) Karl-Ferdinand Schaedler announces an
exhibition, African Art in Swiss Private
Collections, in Olten, Swtizerland, August 25
- October 15, 1989.

Respectfully submitted by Lisa Aronson,
Secretary Treasurer, ACASA


Following discussions at the Business
Meeting on various ACASA initiatives,
individual Board Members agreed to draw
up a preliminary set of proposals for
discussion and debate by the membership.

We are publishing the first drafts here in this

A discussion period for each category of
initiatives is on the Agenda for the Business
Meeting during the Atlanta ASA's (Friday,
November 3, 1989, 4:30 6:00 pm in the
Spanish Suite)

Please take some time now to read
these initiatives carefully and please come
prepared to discuss, amend or add to them
in Atlanta. During the Business Meeting we
will be calling for the constitution of working
groups from the membership who will be
willing to actively participate in the planning
and implementation of various initiatives.

If you can't be in Atlanta, please take the
time to respond in writing favorably or
otherwise to the proposed initiatives. If you
can give your time and energy please
volunteer for specific working groups. Send
your written responses to Lisa Aronson,
ACASA Secretary-Treasurer, Department of
Art, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs,
NY 12866 before October 15th so that your
response can be included in the discussion
at Atlanta.

(prepared by Barbara Frank)

A: Development of Educational Resources
1. Visual Resources: Slide Packets
We would like to explore the possibility
of assembling and publishing slide
packets on a variety of topics suitable
for use in the classroom. Scholars would
be asked to contribute slides they have
taken in the field with a paragraph of
basic information about the image and/or
group of slides on a particular topic.

2. Edited Volume of Readings and/or
Text on African art.
Should our top priority be a volume of
readings or essays, or a text? What
should the coverage be? Should the
material be organized around regions/
style areas or themes/topics? Should
this be coordinated with the slide

B: Active Recruitment and Encouragement


of Undergraduate and Graduate Students
1. Summer Institutes
Organize and seek funding for a series
of summer Institutes for college credit
at major institutions either museums or
universities with graduate programs in
African art to encourage undergraduates
to enter the field.

2. Student Grants-in-Aid
At present ACASA provides travel monies
to selected graduate students presenting
papers at the Triennials. Should we
expand our awards to include small
grants for travel and research to other
conferences and/or institutions?

(prepared by Mikelle Smith-Omari)

In order to encourage Africans and African-
American scholars in the visual arts to
become members of ACASA and to
participate more actively, we propose the
following initiatives for consideration:

A: Through direct domestic and foreign
mail and collegial networking, these
scholars will be identified in academic,
research or museum capacities.

B: Send cover letter summarizing the
history and purpose of ACASA to
identified scholars; include membership
form and a current newsletter (if
economically feasible). Follow up
with telephone or second mailing.

C: Compile a directory of African and
African-American scholars whose research
deals with African Art in art historical,
anthropological or archeological contexts.
(Co-ordinate efforts with Janet Stanley's
Data base on African scholars working on
material culture)

D: Establish an International Visitor Program
on the already established ASA model to
fully or partially fund travel for
participation in annual ACASA panels and
the Triennial. This program would
support scholars from Africa and from
countries in the African Diaspora.

Funding would be sought from outside
sources, although if members agreed,
ACASA could offer partial grants on a
competitive basis.

(prepared by Mikelle Smith-Omari)

A. The ASA is instituting a national
conference program committee to be in
place by 1991 or 1992. A permanent
slot should be secured on this
committee to be filled on a rotating
basis with an ACASA Board member.

B. In addition to our already implemented
program distributing African Arts
magazine to selected African institutions,
we might want to explore additional
efforts (focusing on books related to
the visual arts) and tie them for example
to the AAAS/ACLS (American Association
for the Advancement of Science/
American Council of Learned Societies)
Book donation program.

(prepared by Philip Ravenhill)

During the Triennial some debate took place
concerning the possibility of ACASA acting
corporately in relation to the needs of
African colleagues working in archeology,
art history and museums in Africa. I would
like to solicit opinions regarding the role of
ACASA in seeking funding and acting as a
broker for projects either in Africa or of vital
concern to Africa: Some possible areas of
corporate involvement are:

1. To solicit funding from USIA private
sector office in order to organize a 1990
study visit to U.S. museums of the dozen or
so participants in the ICCROM (Rome)
PREMA course that teaches preventive
conservation methods to African museum
conservators. They would like to visit
American museums, and there is a distinct
possibility that USIA would respond
favorably to a request from ACASA for

2. To seek funds -- e.g. from the Getty
Trust--for collaborative projects that would


combine the skills of North American
colleagues and African museum
professionals for collection surveys of
national museum holdings in Africa.

3. To find sponsorship for the creation of
photographic archives on African
archeological material held in private and
museum collections. It is apparent that
neither we nor African colleagues are aware
of the types and numbers of important
archeological objects that continue to
surface in Europe and the United States. Is
it possible to think of organizing a research
file that would be of use to all researchers?

My concern in raising thses issues as
examples is to see in what way we can
respond as an organization to the requests
from African colleagues for institutional
relationships that go beyond whatever
individual personal friendships we may

(prepared by Frederick Lamp)

It should be the goal of ACASA to
strengthen its ties with both the ASA and
the CAA. The CAA is important to us in
establishing ourselves within the discipline
of art history and for strengthening the
dialogue with art historians working in other
geographic areas (for Africanists working
with any form of the arts and material
culture, regardless of their disciplinary
base). The particular steps I propose are
the following:

1. All ACASA members who are art
historians should register as members of the
CAA. CAA membership is a prerequisite for
participation in the session of the CAA
annual convention. To this end, our mailing
list should be supplied to the CAA

2. All ACASA members, both those who are
art historians and those who are not, should
attend and participate in, as fully as
possible, the CAA annual convention.
Those from disciplines outside of art history
are invited to participate as guests of the
discipline without becoming members.

possible, the CAA annual convention.
Those from disciplines outside of art history
are invited to participate as guests of the
discipline without becoming members.

3. ACASA should act as the agency for the
organization of panels for the submission to
the CAA convention program chair.
Solicitation of panel ideas should be given
in the ACASA Spring Newsletter (generally
February or March) in order to present
panel suggestions to the CAA chair by the
normal May deadline for the following year's

4. While area and ethnic studies are
essential to African art history, it is equally
essential to organize panels around themes
that could benefit from input from non-
Africanists. It would be our goal to achieve
this balance in our panel selections, and we
would encourage our panel chairs to solicit
papers from a broad range of regional
perspectives, African, Western, Pre-
Columbian, Oceanic, etc.

5. Likewise, we would ask the CAA
program chair to specifically encourage
non-Africanist panel chairs who are
organizing thematic sessions to solicit
papers from Africanists. Not only is it
essential that we establish a dialogue with
our colleagues in other areas, but we have
the opportunity to provide models for our
discipline in the methodology of art
historical study.

6. To this end, we must encourage
Africanists to submit articles to the principle
venues in our discipline, The Art Bulletin and
the Art Journal while not undercutting our
allegiance to our own publication African
Arts. The problem in the past has not been
so much one of the Africanist being rejected
for publication by CAA journals, as it has
been the dearth of submissions from which
selections are made on the basis of
excellence. A beginning has been made
and it must be nurtured.


[November 2-5, 1989]

ACASA Business Meeting
Friday, November 3, 1989
4:30 6:00 pm
(Spanish Suite)

Please plan to attend the Business Meeting
and come prepared to discuss the
initiatives presented in this Newsletter.


Thursday, Nov. 2, 1989
1:00-2:50 pm.

New Developments and Interpretations of
Nigerian History: Art as Evidence

Chair: Maria C. Berns (University of

Maria C. Berns (University of Minnesota)
Art, History and Gender: Who made the
Nok Terracottas?
Ekpo Eyo (University of Maryland, College
The Owo Factor in Bini-Portuguese Ivories
Philip M. Peek (Drew University)
The Isoko Clans and the Niger-Benue
Sidney L. Kasfir (Emory University)
Odu Mele and Akya: Unravelling the
Precolonial Bamenda Cloth Nade

Thursday, Nov 2, 1989
3:00 4:50 pm

African Psychology and Art: Life History
and Inner Healing

Chair: Suzanne Preston Blier (Columbia

Suzanne Preston Blier (Columbia University)
Inside/Outside: The Psychodynamics of
Art in Danhome.
Paula Girshick Ben-Amos (Indiana
Oba Ewakpe: A Psychological Portrait of
an Early 18th Century Benin King.


Polly Nooter (Columbia University)
Songs for the Spirit: Remedies for the
Soul; the Art of Luba Divination and

Discussant: Roy Sieber (Indiana University
/National Museum of African Art)

Friday, Nov 3, 1989
11:00 am 12:50 pm

Through African Eyes: Perceptions of
the West in African Art

Chairs: Raymond A. Silverman (Michigan
State University) and Simon Ottenberg
(University of Washington)

Raymond A. Silverman (Michigan State
University) Through African Eyes:
Defining the Problem(s).
Kathy Curnow Nasara (Philadelphia, PA),
Alien or Accepted: African Perspectives in
the 15/16th Century.
Christopher B. Steiner (Harvard University)
Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: The
Mediation of Knowledge by Traders in
African Art.
Bennetta Jules-Rossette (UC-San Diego)
Simulations of Postmodernity: Images of
Technology in African Tourist Art.

Friday, Nov. 3, 1989
2:30-4:20 pm

Historical and Cross-Cultural
Considerations in the Art of East Africa
and the Swahili Coast

Chair: Nancy Ingram Nooter (National
Museum of African Art)

Patricia W. Romero (Towson State
Lamu Women, Art and Culture, in the
Twentieth Century.
Lydia Puccinelli (National Museum of African
The Figurative Powder Horn: Its Origins
and Its Transformations.
Diane Pelrine (Indiana University Art
Figural Sculpture for Girls Among the
Zaramo and their Neighbors.
Athman Lali Omar
The Funeral Rites Practiced by the Swahili


People of the East African Coast.
Nancy Ingram Nooter (National Museum of
African Art)
High Backed Stools: A Pan-ethnic
Tradition in East Africa.

Discussant: Marian A. Johnson

Saturday, Nov. 4, 1989
9:00 10:50 am

All This and Field Work Too: Drawing on
Archives and Other Non-Fieldwork Data
in the Study of Art

Panel Chairs: Fred T. Smith (Kent State
University) Martha Anderson (Alfred

Martha Anderson (Alfred University)
Merchant Princes, Pirate Chiefs and Petty
Traders: Art and Commerce in the Niger
Kate Ezra (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The Field Notes of Leo Frobenius and his
Collection of Bamana Art.
John Nunley (St. Louis Art Museum)
Title to be announced
Fred T. Smith (Kent State University)
Putting History Back into African
Architectural History.

Saturday, Nov. 4, 1989
11:00 am 12:50 pm

Change and the Contemporary African

Chair: Acha Debela (Ohio State University)

Jean Kennedy (San Francisco)
Bruce Onabrakpaye of Nigeria
Salah Hassan (University of Pennsylvania)
An Alkhatiin: Kalabari Ancestral Screen in
a Sudanese Mileu
Acha Debela (Ohio State University)
Gebrekristes Desta of Ethiopia
Molunga-Tunna Ngwenya (Mozambique)
An Artist's Perspective.
Robert Farris Thompson (Yale University)
Title to be announced

Saturday, Nov. 4, 1989
2:30 4:20 pm

Sunday, Nov 5, 1989
2:30 4:20 pm

Roundtable: Exhibition Strategies :
Social and Aesthetic Dimensions of
African Dress

Moderators: Christine Mullen Kreamer
(National Museum of Natural History)
Patrick McNaughton (Indiana University)

Martha Kendall (Indiana University)
Joanne Bubolz Eicher (University of
Philip Ravenhill (National Museum of
African Art)
Henry Drewal (Cleveland State University)
Thomas Seligman (deYoung Memorial
Museum, Fine Arts Museums of
San Francisco)

Sunday, Nov. 5, 1989
9:00 10:50 am

Roundtable: Traditional African Art Today

Moderator: Susan Vogel (Center for African
Labelle Prussin (City College of New York,
William Dewey (MIT)
Patricia Darish (UMKC Gallery of Art)
Frederick Lamp (Baltimore Museum of Art)
Marilyn Houlberg (Chicago Art Institute)

Sunday, Nov. 5, 1989
11:00 am 12:50 pm

Mother Earth: African-American Clay
Artistis in the African Crafts Continuum

Chair: Willis Bing Davis (Central State

Willis Bing Davis (Central State University)
Winnie Owens-Hart (Howard University)
David MacDonald (Syracuse University)
Yvonne MacDonald (Florida A & M)

Discussants: M.S. Omari (California State
University, Long Beach)
Rosalind Jefferies (Yale University)


Roundtable: Ethics, Objects and Field

Chairs: Mary Jo Arnoldi (National Museum
of Natural History) and Doran H. Ross
(UCLA Museum of Cultural History)

Rachel Hoffman (UCLA)
The Collector's Unconscious: Innocence
and Culpability in Field Research.
P. Chike Dike (National Museums, Nigeria)
Field Collecting of Artifact in Nigeria The
Ethical Issues.
David Binkley (Nelson-Atkins Museum of
Art/ University of Missouri-Kansas City)
Field Collecting and Artifact as Model in
Barbara Blackmun (San Diego Mesa
Malawi and Benin Contrasts in Field


Thursday, Nov. 2, 1989
3:00 4:50 pm

Cultural Expressions

Chair: Harriet Ottenheimer (Kansas State

Corinne A. Kratz (University of Nairobi)
We've always Done It Like This...Except
For a Details: 'Tradition" and "Innovation"
in Okiek Ceremonies.
Maria G. Cattell (Philadelphia Geriatric
Death Never Goes Unnoticed: Funerals as
Social Dramas in Samia, Kenya
William F.S. Miles (Northeastern University)
Hausa Dreams.
Rachel I. Fretz (UCLA)
Vital Images: African Seers Divining and

Friday, Nov. 3, 1989
9:00 10:50 am

Christian Missions and African Clothing:
Struggles over Meaning and Identity

Chair: Margaret Jean Hay (Boston

Phyllis Martin (Indiana University)
Clothing and Christians in French Congo.
Barbara Moss (Indiana University)
Clothed in Righeousness and Respect:
The Use of Uniforms within Zimbabwean
Women's Ruwadzano/Manyano in the
Methodist Church.
Margaret Jean Hay (Boston University)
Christian Conversion, the Labor Market
and Changing Consumption Patterns
Among the Kenya Luo.
Christraud Geary (Boston University)
The Fabrics of Belief: Christian Dress
in German Cameroon.

Saturday, Nov. 4, 1989
9:00 10:50 am
Fourth Paper on the panel: Distorting
Mirrors: The Problem of Cross-Cultural
Nkiru Nzegwu (Nigeria)
Concepts and Attitudes: What's in the
Word "Art"?

(transmitted by Frederick Lamp)

Our intent in this feature section is to
convey news of CAA activities on a regular
basis, with the goal of involving ACASA
membership more fully with our colleagues
in other areas of art history. ACASA is an
affiliate organization of the CAA as well as
the ASA. However, currently only 18
ACASA members are also members of CAA.
The ACASA Board wants to take this
opportunity to urge its members to also join
the CAA and help to enrich their agenda as
well as ours. Remember -- there will be no
panels on African Art at the CAA annual
meetings nor will there be articles on African
art in the Art Bulletin or the Art Journal if we
do not contribute them. The address for
membership is: College Art Association,
275 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10001.


CAA's "People of Color in the Arts" Survey.
CAA Board Member, Faith Ringgold, has
spearheaded a significant effort by the CAA
to identify people of color in the visual arts.
This survey is being conducted to aid the
CAA Board in accomplishing its goal of
bringing more people of color into the
nucleus of CAA's governing body,
membership activities, programs, sessions,
committees, and award nominations. It may
also provide the CAA with some rough
evidence of the status of people of color in
the academic and museum world. Help the
CAA identify people of color in the visual
arts by completing a survey form. Write or
call: Julie Silliman, CAA, 275 Seventh
Avenue, New York, NY 10001. 212/691-
1051. (CAA Newsletter, Summer 1989:3)

1990 Annual Meeting, New York City,
February 15-17:

The deadline for paper submissions is past.
But, we do urge attendance at this meeting
in support of several panels in our field, as
well as panels of related interest:

African Sculpture Chair: Christopher Roy.
Object and Sacrifice Chair: Sarah Brett-
Festivals: African and African Caribbean
Chair: Judith Bettelheim.
Precolumbian Art: Reconstructing History
from the History of Art Chair: Mary Miller.
The Columbus Quincentenary and the Art of
Latin America: A Critical Evaluation Chair:
Shifra Goldman.
Collecting Museums, and the Shaping of Art
History Chair: Jeffrey Abt.
Exoticism, Orientalism. Primitivism: Modes
of "Otherness" in Western Art and
Architecture from Antiquity to the Present
Chair: Frederick N. Bohrer.
Art and Civic Identity (Western and non-
Western Societies) Chair: Patricia Fortini
Scatology in Art Chair: Richard Martin.
Reflections on Race and Racism in Modern
Western Art (1750-Present Chair: Kathryn
Moore Heleniak.
Modern Art and Popular Entertainment
Chair: Sharon Hirsh.
Abstract Expressionism's Others (ethnic,
sexual, stylistic, geographic, and class)
Chair: Ann Eden Gibson.
Islamic Art 650-1250 Chair: Marianna

Shreve Simpson.
The History of Photography (anthropological
included) Chair: Julia Ballerini.

All of the above panels, except for the two
American art panels, could have included
papers on African art.



The 1991 CAA Annual Conference will be
held in Washington, D.C. Thursday,
February 21 and run through Saturday,
February 23, 1991.

Session proposals will be considered only
from CAA members. The Proposals should
be a short (one to two page) letter essay
framing the topic of the session/panel and
explaining any special or timely significance
it may have for your particular field and/or
discipline. For Studio panels in particular,
please outline potential panelists and
procedures. Explanatory or supportive
materials may be included with the
proposal. Please include a c.v. or
biographical statement, preferred mailing
address, and both work and home
telephone numbers.

Art History Chair: Marianna Shreve-
Simpson, associate dean, Center for
Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National
Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. 20565.

See the CAA Newsletter, Summer 1989 for
more complete details about procedures
and program chairs statements of themes.


Presented at the Eighth Triennial
Symposium on African Art Awards Banquet,
Washington D.C. June 16, 1989.

1989 is the first year that ACASA has
presented a book award for work published
in our field. Publishers were asked to


nominate titles in the field of African arts for
the award, and a selection committee was
formed consisting of Frederick Lamp, Janet
Stanley and Jean Borgatti.

The award is to be offered triennially to a
work of original scholarship and excellence
in visual presentation which makes a
significant contribution to our understanding
of the arts and material culture of Africa and
the African diaspora. Four honorable
mention awards are also made.

Our heartiest congratulations go to the 1989
First Place:

Suzanne Preston Blier
The Anatomy of Architecture: Ontology and
Metaphor in Batammaliba Architectural
Expression, Cambridge University Press,
New York, 1987.

Four Honorable Mentions:

Christraud M. Geary
Images from Bamun: German Colonial
Photography at the Court of Kina Njoya,
Cameroon, West Africa Smithsonian
Institution, Washington D.C., 1988.

John W. Nunley
Moving with the Face of the Devil: Art and
Politics in Urban West Africa University of
Illinois Press, Urbana, 1987.

Maria C. Berns and Barbara Rubin Hudson
The Essential Gourd: Art and History in
Northeastern Nigeria Museum of Cultural
History, University of California, Los
Angeles, 1986.

Christopher Roy
Art of the Upper Volta Rivers Allain and
Francoise Chaffin, Paris, 1987.

Winning publishers are granted the right to
use the award designation in publicity
connected with the distribution of the
publication. We thank all those who
participated in the competition.


The second ACASA Leadership Awards
were presented to two outstanding
colleagues at the Awards Banquet during
the 1989 Triennial Symposium on African
Art. Phil Peek introduced the award.
Suzanne Preston Blier presented the
Leadership Award posthumously to Douglas
Fraser. Mary Jo Arnoldi presented the
Leadership Award to Warren d'Azevedo.

For those of you who were unable to
attend the Awards Banquet, we are
including the ACASA Leadership Award
Address given by Warren D'Azevedo. It is a
thoughtful, provocative and eloquent piece,
so enjoy.



Eighth Triennial Symposium on African Art
Washington, D. C.
June 16, 1989

When first I heard that this award was to
be conferred on me there was a brief
moment of whelming doubt about the
possibility of mistaken identity. Most
unsettling, however, was the ensuing
reflection on the slim and scattered corpus
of my writings that had been judged, by
some criteria not immediately discernible by
me, to "exemplify excellence and leadership
in the study of African art." What is more,
all this was to be broached in the company
of a host of worthy peers and the
burgeoning ranks of younger scholars
whose works have amazed and delighted
me with their richness of observation and
analytic power.

I must confess to some
preoccupation with such thoughts over the
past several weeks, not as an exercise in
humility (to which I am not unduly prone),
but as an earnest effort to appreciate the
motives of my colleagues who deemed me
eligible for this honor--and also, I suppose,
to justify my pleasure in it. Of course it has


occurred to me that sheer longevity is a
factor as well as historical moment.
Biologically, there should be little doubt that
I can lay claim to an advanced degree of
seniority. Chronologically, it could be
attested that my earliest interest in the
subject of our mutual concerns emerged at
the end of the era that Roy Sieber, in his
address before you on a similar evening
three years ago, defined as one of "essential
innocence" in the study of African arts, and
what William Fagg alluded to on the same
occasion as "just before the revolution that
ushered in a new kind of spurious
'authenticity.'" In that these deftly enigmatic
remarks were uttered by two eminent art
historians who were the initial recipients of
this award from you and with whom 1--the
first anthropologist to be so honored--have
shared a generative early association, it
seems fitting that I should include some
mention of the resonances and dissonances
their comments have awakened in me.
To be sure, the 1940s and 1950s were
prelude to a certain loss of innocence
among the intelligentsia of the Western
world. The second world war undoubtedly
was a factor in this ordeal of transition.
That unprecedented disapora of European
and American armies and emissaries into
the far reaches of non-Western domains
was, on the grand scale, analogous to the
phase of liminal withdrawal imposed by
many societies upon their youth as an
instrument of socialization. After an interval
of merciless isolation from all that is known
and loved, the initiated re-enter the nurturing
community chastened and born again.
Likewise, the neophytes of the West,
having penetrated regions scarcely
glimpsed by intrepid explorers, ethnologists
and colonial agents, collapsed back into the
fold bearing the baggage of absence--more
than the trophies and curios of chaotic
encounters, but the images of a larger
human reality heretofore unimagined.

There befell a kind of puberty crisis in
Western thought, a veritable rite of spring.
For Western artists and students of the arts
the transformation was profound. The
arena of esthetic sensibility and seduction
almost suddenly had expanded to
encompass a planet of human creativity and
aspiration. Anything that could be
perceived as exotic or "primitive" began to

flourish in the liberated marketplaces of
public taste. Emblems and gestures of
previously unheralded humankind
permeated every craft, the advertising
media, music, dance, visual and verbal
expression, the language itself. Through
subtle metamorphoses the ostensibly
traditional became the imprimatur of the
vanguard. The "primitive" was now a trendy
and negotiable specie for the new pluralist
appetite. Art and its public would never be
the same again. It is little wonder that
artificers everywhere, even in the remotest
tribe and village of pristine human endeavor,
duly responded to the demand from our
hungry culture by making industry of what
we so ardently coveted.

This was, indeed, tantamount to a
revolution, stirring up in its wake
unprecedented vigor in the study of other
cultures, their histories and their arts. But
there appeared also the inevitable ripples of
what Bill Fagg referred to as "spurious
authenticity" in the materials of art history.
It impelled him to a relentless guardianship
of the "authentic against the flood of either
guileless or artful counterfeit, a project
inspired by what he modestly and quite slyly
described as "a love of minutia... tied up
with a pursuit of irrelevancies real or

I must admit to a modicum of
peevish ambivalence during my early
acquaintance with this dedicated man. It
was due in part to the diffidence provoked
in me by his air of majestic assurance in
matters under his dominion. Once--I believe
it was in 1967-1 had the unforgettable
experience of descending with him through
the intestine of the British Museum where I
was shown crib after crib of wondrously
diverse African antiquities, mesmerized all
the while by his exhaustive knowledge of
the collection and his clearly intimate regard
for each piece. When at last we penetrated
that section consigned to the region of the
Guinea Coast where I had worked, the eerie
sense of having intruded upon an ancestral
sepulcher was sobering and remains with
me to this day. Here were the progenitors
of much that I had seen during sojourn in
another culture, the familiar yet strangely
archaic forms of workmanship and faded
images from decades or even centuries


ago. Here also was enshrined a multitude
of lost or totally unfamiliar relics of the
conceptions and productive skills of the
forebears of the African people I knew and
had lived among. Moreover, there were
among these objects some that would have
filled my African patrons with dread and
outrage, things never to be profaned by
outsiders or alienated from the context of
sacred rite.

My own culpability was unmasked as I
glimpsed the reproachful faces of scores of
Sande helmets, some moldering in heaps,
others on their sides, upside down, cracked,
exposed, divested of proper raiment and
glowering like so many harpies from
shadowed niches. What an indecent
charnel for the husks of those once
imperious beings! Yet I, too, had procured
a few rare objects of this kind while in the
field through clandestine transactions that
violated a tacit code of trust with my hosts.

Despite well understood prohibitions and
the potential risk to errant friends, as well as
to my own standing among their peers, it
seemed the thing to do in the interests of
ethnographic research. But was it? They
are not essential to my work, for I have
photographed and described every aspect
of their public demeanor and elicited what
was forthcoming of their local significance.
Those dismembered and trophied
headpieces are travesties of a unique
actuality. Had they been left to a more
honorable demise by ubiquitous bug-a-
bugs, natural decay, and personal continuity
through solicitous replacement, they or their
likenessess might be dancing still, their
names and the memory of their powers
entered into local history.

The few such masks in my possession
arouse in me a kind of sadness rather than
fascination or the pride of acquisition. I
know all too well what they stand for among
the people for whom they had life. These
severed heads and countenances had
belonged to actual personages whose
mission was to terrify, subdue and enthrall.
They represent the most mysterious of
deities so occult that any public disclosure
of human fabrication in their depiction is a
dire offense. Their "beauty" subsumes all

these attributes and much more: it is truly in
the eye of the beholder. Whether perceived
as ugly, comely, frightful or resplendent,
their existence derives from the myth and
social interactions of those who contrive
and construe them. It was in that habitat I
learned about them, and there is where they
belong. Perhaps that is why I was never
inclined to display them in my home. I am
uneasy in their presence, ambivalent about
donating them to some collection, and quite
unwilling to sell them. The thought that they
might be seen or traced to me by visiting
Gola friends is appalling. What explanation
would I have either the courage or duplicity
to offer? Even the most worldly and urbane
would recognize the hypocrisy. The fact is
that I took them away by stealth and now
feel that I should not have done so.

Imputations of sentimentality or
heterodoxy not withstanding, I hold such
feelings to be self-evident and justified by
personal experience. I find little palliation in
the thought that times have changed since I
first encountered the Gola, that most have
now witnessed and many even have
conjoined the dissipation of their heritage,
or that Sande masks of dubious origins may
be acquired openly in the stalls of urban
traders. Nor is there sufficient vindication in
the notions that their acquisition is essential
to the course of objective knowledge,
historical conservation, the appreciation of
other cultures, or detached enjoyment.
They are privileged objects and deserve to
be excluded from these alien processes.
What more can they teach here that cannot
be learned better there? Though the
rejoiners to such ingenuous questions are
readily educible from the implicit
assumptions of our vocations, they are not
likely to resolve the ethical predicament for
each and every one. For me, any attempt
to rationalize my possession of those
particular masks merely intensifies the sense
of sadness and loss, much as it might for
the few remaining elders with whom I
worked. Therefore, those disquieting
objects reside still in the barrels in which
they were shipped many years ago, exuding
the whiff of preservative melding an
unmistakable perfume of raffia and tropical
caches, obstructing passage in the many
garages and basements of our shifting
habitants while awaiting a decision of venue.


But, now, here I stood in an utmost
recess of one of the great museums of the
world surrounded by a motley of masks in
the same genre as my own together with
hundreds of items of manufacture from the
region of assigned provenience. Each was
neatly labeled by donor, date of acquisition
and assumed "tribal" affiliation. The names
Mende, Vai, Gola, Dei, Gbande, Kpelle,
Gallinas or Sherbro served as consoling
indicators of a familiar ethnic and
geographic space. My companion, a
foremost expert and keeper of such things,
was deeply engrossed in his exposition and
quite oblivious of my private dialogue, which
I suspect he would have found to be
startlingly puerile, if not in poor taste.
Throughout the tour my latent disclaimers
were quelled by the magnitude of potential
data around us and his unshakable
conviction that these assemblages provided
a key to untold mysteries of art and life. I
think my grudging respect for art history
and undaunted collectors began here as Bill
Fagg resolutely identified and integrated
each item into a larger frame of temporal
and distributional relations. Under his
enlightenment, art history and
connoisseurship became a new dimension
of what I had understood to be
ethnohistory. Although there were others of
my own generation who were instrumental
in this tardy appreciation, it was that
memorable moment of insight at the mercy
of a benign but obdurate elder that will
always come to mind with particular

In the midst of this reverie of
accommodation, however, one more
discordant note was struck. My illustrious
guide of the catacombs was now pointing
to one object and then another, remarking
that "this one is quite authentic" while "that
one is a fake." Still others were "authentic
but not good art." I had just come from a
field trip where I had known a number of
Gola carvers each of whom produced over
time a range of works that comprised
sacred paraphernalia for the Sande and
Poro societies as well as utensils and
ornaments commissioned by local citizens;
also toys, combs and impromptu items as
gifts to children and lovers; but also
versions of all these along with the co-work

of apprentices peddled in the
semiclandestine market of tourists and
foreign collectors. What, I asked, could be
the relevance of esthetic judgments
concerning discrete objects deprived of the
vital context in which individual creators
pursued their careers and propagated a
corpus of variable and mutating products?
Was not the matter of "authenticity" or
"good" or "bad" handiwork ultimately
referable to the standards of taste in the
cultures where it was produced rather than
to the cerebrations of external appreciators
and consumers?

Bill Fagg suffered little patience with such
insurgent relativism and even less with the
inadvertent implication that he might be a
vulnerable target. We had a lusty exchange
in the dim corridor of the Grain Coast
collection from which I emerged bested but
unreconstructed. Indeed, I knew I had done
him an injustice. Much as he loved the
contents of that museum and trusted his
own evaluative acumen, he was more than
the customary art historian of that time. He
had gone out into the field again and again
to find the artists and to observe the cultural
arena of their work. Moreover, he
expressed an aversion for those art critics
who, as he had stated in one place, having
"written from an aesthetic point of view on
African sculpture have succeeded only in
interposing an opaque screen of largely
irrelevant verbiage between it and the
student" (Elisofon & Fagg, The Sculpture of
Africa, 1958:23).

This was good medicine and I had
drunk eagerly of it. I, too, had been
repelled by the insular estheticism current in
art analysis, most particularly in
commentary about non-Western arts.
In fact it bored me, as did the idolatry of
exotic things defined without heed to their
natural abode or palpable makers. The
antidote was fieldwork, and it was this
perhaps more than anything else that linked
such disparate individuals as Bill Fagg,
Arnold Rubin, Bill Bascom, Alan Merriam,
Leon Siroto, Roy Sieber, me and not a great
many others in those formative years of the
1950s and 1960s. Whether art historian,
anthropologist, or whatever, we shared the
reality of actually having been to some part
of Africa, of knowing the people, their artists


and their works. It also joined us in a
common enterprise of routing shibboleths
and, consequently, of helping to pose some
of the questions that have impelled a
generation or more of inquiring scholars.

These early associations across
disciplines were crucial for me and effective
in shaping my own ideas. In those days the
orientation of anthropology was not
conducive to specialized investigation of the
arts. Most departments discouraged such
interests as humanistic, at best, or well out
of the mainstream of contemporary issues
in scientific ethnology and sociocultural
theory. The relations between art and
society were scarcely considered excepting
insofar as the former might be regarded as
an appurtenance of the latter, a cultural
residuum of functionally integrated systems.
Questions of comparative esthetics,
symbolism or philosophy, unless cloaked
under the rubrics of "religion" "ethos" or
"worldview," had been banished to the
purgatory of arcane subjects not quite
ready for prime-time social science. It may
well have been this mid-twentieth century
orientation of anthropology that evoked
from Douglas Fraser and Herbert Cole the
somewhat exasperated comment that the
"functionalist approach" often went to the
extreme "of treating art objects solely in
terms of their cultural context as if they
were so many pieces of firewood" (African
Art and Leadership 1972:3-4). A fusion of
methods between this approach and that of
the "formalists" was called for in order to
"bridge the intellectual gap." In the study of
African art the rapprochement between
anthropologists and art historians already
was under way when these views were
expressed. Doug Frazer and his students
were in the forefront of that movement and
it is, therefore, most gratifying to me to
share with you on this occasion a
recognition of his work and influence.

When I first went to Africa in 1956 my
project focused on ethnographic survey,
social organization and problems of
ethnohistory. Though I was familiar with the
extant writings on the arts of the area, I saw
little relevance in them for my task. They
spoke to me of antiquarian assemblages of
material objects, motifs and interpretations
disengaged from the living presence of the

people among whom I was to work. In
hindsight I am aware of how profoundly this
reaction had been conditioned by the
dominant orientation of my discipline at the
time. One did not study art: one studied
cultures and social systems in which
phenonmena of this kind might function as
noteworthy embellishments of ongoing
events. However, this admission must be
qualified in that it does not do justice to an
influence of special importance during the
last phase of my graduate studies. While
pursuing academic work at the University of
California, I began to develop a deep
interest in African-American research which,
deviated considerably from the major
concerns of the department and its available
resources. Following the casual suggestion
made by a sympathetic member of the
faculty, I applied to the Department of
Anthropology at Northwestern University. It
was my good fortune to be accepted and,
with the additional incentive of a possible
fellowship, I transferred there from Berkeley
in 1953. Otherwise, I might well have
remained a North Americanist rather than
becoming also an Africanist.

It was there, in the enormously
stimulating environment of the first program
of African studies in the United States, that
my engrossment in Africa began. Melville
Herskovits was a provocative and strongly
opinionated mentor whose commitment to
anthropology and to Africa was transmitted
to his students through a profound personal
regard for them as individuals and
independent thinkers. Together with the
scrupulous scholarship ethnographic
erudition of William Bascom the department
provided powerful incentives that affected
the subsequent careers of scores of
Africanists in this country and abroad.
While most of our American colleagues
seemed unaware of its vast potential, we felt
ourselves to be at the hub of current
information and new thought about Africa
and the New World disaspora. Visiting
scholars from Europe, Africa and the
Americans as well as representatives of
governments and international agencies
addressed our seminars and made
themselves available for consultation.
Behind it all was the unflagging
determination of our mentors that we be
properly honed and propelled toward the


ultimate test of fieldwork.

I do not recall that there was any
particular emphasis on the study of the arts
while I was there, though all of us were
aware of the pioneering work and abiding
concern of Herskovits in this area. Some of
his students such as William Bascom,
Justine Cordwell, Allan Merriam, John
Messenger, David Ames and, of course,
Daniel Crowley were focussing their
interests on one or another aspect of the
arts. However, many of us chose other
routes and a few quite consciously
determined to distance themselves from
some of the most cherished dicta of their
mentor. It is nevertheless worthy of note
that most of us came to deal with matters of
art and esthetics at some point in our
careers. To a large extent I think that this
fact can be attributed to the vigorous
humanism of Herskovits' approach to
anthropological investigation. Always before
us was his insistence upon attention to
individual differences and creativity in
culture, a course that leads almost inevitably
to a sensitized perception of the ubiquitous
role of artistry in human behavior. For
some of us the effect of this persuasion was
subtle and often submerged by competing
theoretical principles, yet its essence
persisted as a quality of viewpoint and
observation. It is in this regard that I wish
to acknowledge here the long friendship
and rewarding example of Si Ottenberg and
James Fernandez, whose innovative
research helped to expand the boundaries
of their discipline and for whom I have a
perhaps unwarranted sense of identity in
perception and purpose.

Though I did not go to Africa to study
art, I was not long in the field before its
manifestations enticed and distracted me on
all sides. African artistry began to have
personal resonace for me only after I had
begun to live among an African people and
learn something of the quality of their
thought and traditions. All around was the
seemingly irrepressible creativity of social
interaction, of speech, of craft, of ceremony,
of the striving for opportunity and power. I
was now confronted with the reality of a
notion I had always held: artistry could not
be confined to things, to objects wrenched
from the environment of origin and

mediation. Thus art is only remotely
identifiable in the analysis of its stilled and
discrete products; rather, it is more directly
found in the artistry of human imagination
and actions that are their sources. From
such a radical perspective, art as artistry
permeates the processes of societies and
their cultures. And though the great
configurations of societies, cultures and
their singular histories my be reified as the
effective agents of artistry, it is the
motivations and capacities of individuals to
which we must eventually turn. This is, of
course, a somewhat inverted paraphrase of
my old friend Roy Sieber's averment that art
history is ultimately "tied to the object" and
that "in the end...the art historian must
return to the work of art." Be that as it may
(and Roy Sieber has learned and taught
much from that perspective) for the
anthropologist the starting point is likely to
be the makers, the persons, the productive
activities and functions of particular human
beings performing in particular social

Reflections of this sort about the nature
of art and the role of individual expressive
behavior were an unanticipated but
absorbing digression during my first sojourn
among the Gola. I became increasingly
aware of those individuals whose skills and
personal identities seemed consciously
intent upon creating conditions that evoke a
sense of the wondrous, of revived order, of
delight or awe in others; that is, the
conditions for what I understnad to be
esthetic appreciation. There were many of
them, in many kinds of activity and station
in life. The virtuosos among them, those
whose skill had elicited a degree of special
regard and whose work contained an
inherent signature, I considered to be
artists. Simply that. Moreover, I found that
I enjoyed the company of such people--
much as I do in my own country--and it was
some of them who were among the persons
with whom I was able to form those close
and enduring relationships that are the rare
reward of long-term fieldwork in another
culture. They were often the most reflective
minds, heedful of their talents, eager for
discourse and exposition, fueled by an
insatiable curiosity and daring that
frequently impelled them to excess and
innovation that challenged the bounds of


conventional wisdom. Such persons
undoubtedly were what Paul Radin
discovered among the Winnebago: the
"philosophers," from whom he gained
unprecedented insights and who fired his
conviction about the importance of
biography in ethnographic research. Radin
was one of my earliest mentors and I have
become more aware than ever that he as
well as Herskovits did much to awaken my
appreciation of the manifold forms and
effects of individual expressiveness in
culture. Not that such perceptions are the
end and all of the of the anthropologist's
task in the field, but they are among its
special bonuses, the source of uncommon
revelation and a reassurance of

It was in this context that my sparse
output of writings on art as artistry in Africa
emerged as an offshoot of my general work.
Its orientation and themes clearly were not
central to issues in art history and certainly
not to anthropology at the time. Few and
far between had been the questing spirits
like Boas, Bunzel, Radin, Himmelheber,
Firth, or Herskovits who had apprehended
even fleetingly the slient agency of individual
creativity in non-Western cultures. I like to
think of my own efforts as a small
contribution to that tradition. Strange does
it seem today that such tentative steps of
inquiry should have been viewed as either
innovative or controversial. The steps are
now leaps, the arena immense, and the
driving assumptions all but commonplace.
The study of non-Western artistry, esthetics,
and indigenous systems of thought have
become major foci of research in a wide
range of disciplines.

One has but to note the large and
heterogeneous gathering of colleagues at
this and other symposia to realize what a
change has taken place. Not quite three
decades ago the attendance of scholars
concerned with this subject at the African
Studies Association meeting in New York
was scarcely sufficient to warrant one panel
on "Art, Music and Literature" in one small
room. Last year in Chicago there were
twenty-four panels devoted to new research
on a vastly expanded roster of the arts and
representing many related disciplines. From
very modest beginnings the Triennial

Symposium on African Art and the Arts
Council of the ASA have grown to become
the vigorous forums that we are witnessing
today. It is no longer necessary to defend a
mission, to jostle for a place on the agenda,
or to proselyte. Not only has our subject
become legitimized, but its appeal is so
intriguing that we now should guard against
its routinization.

Particularly significant, in my view, has
been the storming of the bastions by
women. Belated as it may be, the
successful assault has routed numerous
privileged suppositions and disclosed
neglected avenues of inquiry. All at once, it
seems, there is a female vantage point,
another side of Issues. The fact that women
also engage in artistry in many cultures has
arisen from oblivion. Even more subverting
is that female scholars have detected a
gender skew in the research of their male
counterparts. This has, at the least, turned
many matters on their heads.
Consequently, the world as observed will
not be quite the same again. As if this were
not enough, there is the increasing
participation of African scholars. They
come among us like so many disquieting
Diogeneses from that real world we are
driven to comprehend. They seem to share
a secret sign-the raised cautionary hand--
signifying something like "Now, hold on a
moment!" I saw this occur the other day as
Rowland Abiodun commented with
measured grace on the papers of a spirited
session. If he will forgive me this
recollection out of context, I noted that he
reiterated the elements of a kind of urgent
invocation throughout: "But we must always
remember that art is more than one thing.
It does something, it causes, it transforms.
Many things happen, not just what you can
see, hear or think one time."

For me, that kind of caution resonates. It
transforms. It causes me to feel that we are
at last on the verge of real discovery.
Those of us who have had the opportunity
to read the two recent overview papers by
Paula Ben-Amos and Monni Adams will
appreciate the complexity of the intellectual
currents and the arduous efforts that have
attended the development of the study of
African arts by-Westerners over the past
half-century or more. In the process, it has


become not only truly interdisciplinary, but
the range of approaches, problems, and
available data has multiplied rather than
diminished the challenges before us. Where
once this field suffered from a plethora of
generalizations and a dearth of substance, it
now faces the real world overwhelmed by
new information and a harvest of inventive
constructs. The Western concept "art,"
once enjoying a peculiar specificity of
reference, has come to be a category so
amorphous as to confound conventional
hankerings after classification. As for
"African Art," we can recall the not so-distant
time when this unalloyed term essentially
denoted sculpture-that is, the sculpture of
central and western Africa. But see what
has come to pass! Not only are we
confronted with multifaceted views of "art"
as a subject of study, but that subject is
revealing itself to be multidimensional as
well. The "arts" of Africa seem boundless in
scope and their manifestations adhere to
and emanate from every circumstance of
human activity. The papers at this and
other recent symposia attest to the fertile
chaos within which we pursue our earnest
discourse. Pathways radiate in all directions
and the pace is apparently headlong.

To my knowledge, no one currently has
posed the question "What is African art?" or,
for that matter, "What in the world is art?" I
once proposed that what was most urgently
needed among us was a shared conception
of the perimeters of the field informed by
one or more substantive definitions that
were responsive to a general theory of the
relation of artistry and esthetic behavior to
society and culture. But I am less impatient
about this than I was. Why risk premature
closure or diversion of these newly released
energies into the task of circumscribing
domains of the quest? Our explorations
have brought us into a vast and startling
terra incognita. If we circle our wagons too
soon, or retreat to the weathered hustings
of doctrinal dispute among privileged
disciplines, we stand to lose the prize. For,
as we proceed, we continue to discover the
omnipresent expressions of artistry in every
nook and cranny of the human condition.
Banner concepts such as "art" or "African
art" sink before such riches. Much the
same can be said of them as Mudimbe has
propounded about the "Africa" of our

glimpsed only when our search forces us to
reevaluate our knowledge, examine its
historicity and transform it into "discourse
on a human being" (Mudimbe, The Invention
of Africa 1988:186).

These views seem consonant with an
intellectual bias I have long held and that I
suspect, has come to characterize the
approach to "art" adduced by my
colleagues from my few statements on the
subject. If we are to persist in using that
swollen metaphor it is incumbent upon us
to comprehend what we mean by it, how it
came to mean what it does to us, and what
of its nature means anything of significance
to them. After all, unless I am entirely
misled, that is the implicit sense of our
project if not theirs. As compulsive and
often acquisitive voyeurs we have peeked
into countless corners, observed and
inquired relentlessly, collected and sorted
millions of things, and we are quite
articulate among ourselves about the
importance of each enterprise. But we
become curiously, inept when they ask why
we do what we do or whether our eyes,
ears, skin and minds have recorded what
they really are. This is the barrier we long
to surmount and the one whose summit
appears to float sometimes nearer or
sometimes farther along a distant horizon.

We have, nevertheless, come a long
way from the time when the subject of the
project we call "the study of African art,"
was identified almost exclusively with the
forms and perceived qualities of things
denoted as "objects of art," "works of art,"
"cultural objects," "objects as texts," and the
like. Whether or not we are ever to
comprehend the full extent of our project or
achieve transcultural credibility in its
discourse, we can celebrate the fact that the
old labels and categories are dissolving
around us like so many mirages. We are
glimpsing the actual landscape beyond,
populated by real human beings with
purposes and needs not too different from
our own. Real persons are acting, creating
and evaluating in real societies. Thus it
seems that our subject has altered
fundamentally. It is becoming human. We
seem at last to have discovered artistry as a
process in other cultures, as a making and
doing in ongoing life and history. The


kernel of what we have called "art" is being
sought in the capacities and intent of
human individuals. Without that search the
word and the concept will remain
shimmering and transmuting illusions, or
mere dancing motes in the eye of the
Western beholder.

Warren L. d'Azevedo


Position Announcement

UCLA. Art Historian African Art. Rank
and Salary Open. Tenure Track. Beginning
September 1990. PhD, Publications,
Teaching experience preferred.
Teach undergraduate and graduate courses.
Include letter of application, curriculum
vitae, and names and addresses of 3
references. Application Deadline: November
30, 1989. AA EOE.
Send application to Cecelia F. Klein, Chair,
African Search Committee, Department of
Art History, 3209 Dickson Art Center, UCLA,
Los Angeles, CA 90024-1417.

New Appointment

The Indianapolis Museum of of Art has
announced the appointment of Theodore
Celenko as Curator of Ethnographic Arts
(Africa, Oceania and the Americas).

Boston University African Studies Center
Fellowship in the African Humanities

The African Studies Center of Boston
University invites applications from African
scholars for a three-month resident
fellowship in the African humanities for the
academic years 1989/90 or 1990/91. The
fellowship will be awarded in conjunction
with the project "African Expressions of the
Colonial Experience (1910-1940)" funded by
the National Endowment for the Humanities
and the Humanities Foundation of Boston
University. Participants in this collaborative
research project explore African perceptions
of colonial rule. Based primarily in the
disciplines of history, anthropology, art
history and literature, the program focuses
on uncovering, documenting, and analyzing

of colonial rule. Based primarily in the
disciplines of history, anthropology, art
history and literature, the program focuses
on uncovering, documenting, and analyzing
a variety of Indigenous African "texts"
created between 1910 and 1940 that give
verbal or visual expression to Africans'
experience of colonial rule. Interpretive and
methodological themes include:

1. Transformations in Material Culture
2. Popular Culture and Performing Arts
3. Translations of Words and Images
4. African Representations of the Colonialist
5. The Collection and Documentation of
neglected Texts.

The fellow will be in residence at the African
Studies Center, participate in the project
workshops and seminars, present a public
lecture, and write a paper on a theme of his
or her choice to be published in the
Humanities Working Paper Series of the
African Studies Center. During the period of
residence, the fellow will be able to draw
upon the excellent resources in the Boston
University African Studies Library and will
interact with Africanist scholars at Boston
University and of the greater Boston area.
The fellowship provides for travel expenses
to and from Boston, and maintenance
during the three-month period. The project
staff will lend support in finding
accommodations and help with other

Eligibility Requirements
Any post-doctoral scholar who engages
issues in the African humanities and focuses
on the time period under discussion is
eligible. The disciplinary affiliation may
include such fields as history, anthropology,
art history, philosophy, literature,
performance studies, and religion. The
geographic focus is open within sub-
Saharan Africa. Preference will be given to
applicants from African institutions who
have demonstrated an active involvement in
humanities research.

Application materials (in English)

1. A short letter of application specifying the
applicant's involvement in humanities


2. A 2-3 page double-spaced typewritten
description of the research project to be
pursued while in residence at the African
Studies Center.

3. A current curriculum vitae and list of

4. A recent article or paper as sample of
the applicant's work.

5. Names and addresses of three
colleagues who know the applicant's work.


Visiting Postion Sought

(submitted by Monni Adams)
Alphonse Tierou, a choreographer and
teacher of African Dance at Nimes, France,
of We/Guere origin, would be pleased to
accept an invitation to teach African dance
at a college or university in the U.S. Mr.
Tierou speaks English.

Monni Adams visited his dance studio in
Nimes and observed his teaching when he
was invited to give classes during the
Festival at Avignon in July. Mr. Tierou
demonstrated an exciting range of dance
techniques and got excellent response from
the numerous students and dancers.

Mr. Tierou is accredited by the Ministry of
National Education in France and since
1988 has been a consultant to UNESCO.
His recent book on African dance Doople loi
eternelle de la danse africaine. Paris:
Maisonneuve and Larose, 1989? [prix 98F]
has received excellent reviews in France.

Please contact him at:
M. Alphonse Tierou
14 rue Clovis
30000 Nimes, France
tel. 33 -66 29 80 08

National Museum of African Art Library

Presenters at the recent Triennial
Symposium on African Art who would be
willing to donate a copy of their papers to
the National Museum of African Art Library
are encouraged to do so. Please send to:

Janet Stanley
National Museum of African Art Library
Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Washington D.C. 20560

Articles and Papers on Portraiture

Scholars interested in developing an article
or a research note [based on a single piece,
or small group of pieces] for a special issue
of African Arts on portraiture edited by Dr.
Jean Borgatti [295 Maple Avenue,
Shrewsbury, MA 01545] should send a 1-
page abstract with title [for articles] or a
descriptive paragraph [for research notes]
to Dr. Borgatti. Please include your current
or most recently held position, a reference
to your most recent or relevant published
work, and address and telephone numbers.

Basic definition: A portrait depicts a
specific individual, a person who is living or
who once lived. Portraiture is determined
through the intention of the artist to depict a
specific person and the recognition that the
individual portrayed by an appropriate
audience. A variety of conventions may be
used to individuate an image, but the
prevailing convention in Africa is naming.
Naming may be verbal or by transcription or
it may occur by way of attributes which
make a specific reference to the person
represented [physiognomic likeness,
associated objects, scarification patterns,
hairstyle, etc.]; or it may be a contextualized
reference embedded in the use of an image
to represent a specific person. Generally
speaking, there are three broad categories
of portraiture in Africa: generic
anthropomorphic images which emphasize
role and status associations but which are
personalized by name or attribute;
emblematic images which may be non-
anthropomorphic and which utilize a highly
symbolic reference system for identification;


and representational images which rely on
face-to-face contact between artist and

The essays in African Arts should be
focused studies based on in-depth
consideration of field and literary sources.
At this point in the research on African
portraiture, it is necessary to examine more
closely the relationship between
conventions of representation, attitudes
about likeness, and ideas about personal
identity in specific African cultures to bring
about a more sophisticated understanding
of African portrait images in relation to their
counterparts elsewhere in the world.

I will be sending African Arts a formal
proposal by August 15, 1989. However,
responses to this announcement will be
considered for the final issue which is
tentatively scheduled for June 1990 with a
manuscript deadline of January 1, 1990.
Other members of the African Arts editorial
board may be involved in the review

This special issue is scheduled to appear
during the time that the exhibition People
and Portraits: Africa and the World is
installed at the Center for African Art in New
York. The exhibition is co-curated by Jean
Borgatti and Richard Brilliant and designed
by Alan Wardwell. It is scheduled to open
in February 1990 and will travel to several
other venues.

My own essay for the exhibition catalogue
will be in press by September, and I will
gladly send those writing articles a copy at
this time in the event anyone would like to
take exception to my definitions or develop
more thoroughly an issue which I raise in
this catalogue essay.

Information Sought On Fertility Imagery

Frederick Lamp seeks information and input
of any kind on imgery from Africa having to
do with human increase for an exhibition
planned for The Baltimore Museum of Art in
1991, to be entitled The Fertile Image. The
principle concerns have to do with imagery
related to concepts of increase and
sexuality that open our eyes to divergence
in African thought from European. This

would include the use of Imagery in ritual
designed specifically to provoke or
encourage fertility, impregnation, healthy
gestation, and successful parturition.
Physically obvious as well as ambiguous
imagery would be useful. A distinction
would be made between imagery having to
do directly with Increase, and that having to
do more with peripheral motives such as
eroticism, pornography, sexual humor,
sexual competition and harassment. Of
special interest is non-sexual and
ambiguous imagery that functions as sexual
metaphor. Imagery may be drawn from any
form of the arts and ritual. Collectors and
scholars are asked to send information,
photos, etc. to Frederick Lamp, Curator,
Arts of Africa, the Americas, and Oceania,
The Baltimore Museum of Art, Art Museum
Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218 (or telephone

Current Exhibitions

Historisches Museum
Olten, Switaerland

Afrika Maske und Skulpture
The exhibition is of African Art from Swiss
private collections. It will be on display
from August 25 October 15, 1989. A
catalogue by the same title written by Karl-
Ferdinand Schaedler accompanies the
exhibit. Written in German and French it
contains both color and b/w photos of 175
objects. Price: Swiss Francs 30.00 or
$17.00 postage included. To order the
catalogue send your check to Panterra
Verlag, Postfach 430451, D-Muchen 43.
Center for African Art
New York, New York

Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and
Opens September 20, 1989
curated by Henry Drewal
John Pemberton III

The exhibition examines the history of
Yoruba artistic production from the twelfth
century to the present. A catalogue
accompanies the exhibit and includes 300
illustration, 96 of which are in color.

A public symposium is planned for Friday
evening September 22nd and all day


Saturday, September 23rd. Scholars will
discuss the origins of Yoruba cultural and
artistic traditions and show how they
continue today through the African

National Museum of African Art
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.

Icons: Ideals and Power in the Art of Africa.
October 25, 1989 September 3, 1990
curated by Herbert Cole

More than 120 works of art, selected from
public and private collections in Africa,
Europe and the United States will be
exhibited. Icons is a panoramic yet
selective survey of 6,000 years of African
art, focussing on five recurent themes: the
male and female couple, the woman and
child, the foreful male, the rider and the
outsider/stranger. These icons are both
universal in world art and culturally specific
in form and meaning in many parts of


Discourse and its Disguises: The
Interpretation of African Oral Texts
edited by Karin Barber and P.F. Moraes
Farias. Birmingham University African
Studies Series 1. Birmingham, England:
Centre of West African Studies, 1989.

The volume is the first in a new
interdisciplinary African series launched by
the Centre of West African Studies. This
volume is based on papers and discussion
produced at an intensive workshop. It
brings together the approaches of history,
criticism, anthropology, and linguistics The
papers look at theoretical issues in oral
poetics, at the location of oral text
production in history and social structure;
and at the surplus of oral 'textuality' that has
always escaped Western academic
appropriations. New ethnographic material
on Soninke, Tukulor, Yoruba, and Zulu
genres is presented.

Rates: Within the UK: pounds 6.95 no
charge for postage
Within Europe: pounds 6.95 plus pounds
1.75 for postage = pounds 8.70.

Within the U.S. $14 plus $3.50 postage
(second class) = $17.50
or $14.00 plus $10.00 postage (first class) =

To order please send crossed cheque to Dr.
P.F. de Moraes Farias, CWAS, University of
Birmingham, P.O. Box 363, Birmingham,
B15 2TT Great Britain.

Bibliography of ore-colonial metalworking

The Natal Museum is compiling a
bibliography on Precolonial metalworkin in
Africa, particularly in Southern Africa
(Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and
further south. Coverage of other regions is
much less complete.
This bibliography has more than 1200
entries and has grown out of research. It is
intended as a working tool, not a definitive
statement. It is not intended to update it
annually by inclusion of further entries and
the checking of existing ones. There will
not be a published final version, but print-
outs can be available at any time since it is
on computer. Should anyone like a copy of
this bibliography, copies will be available
from June 1989 from the Department of
Archaeology, Natal Museum.

Musical Album: The Igede of Nigeria
No T-117, Music of the World Label,
Brooklyn, New York.

Robert Nicholls has produced a music
album of Igede music which consists of
sixteen tracts of funerary songs, social
dance music and Igede/Christian hymns
that he recorded. The album contains
extensive linear notes and descriptions.
Nicholls has published articles on Igede
music in The Black Perspective in Music 16
(2) 1988 and on Igede masquerades in
African Arts 17 (3): 70-76 1984.

West African Masks and Cultural Systems
Sidney Kasfir, ed.
1988 Musee Royale de I'Afrique, Tervuren.
252 pp. 86 b/w ill. 3 maps, biblio.
Essays by Babatunde, Borgatti, Jones,
Kasfir, Lifschitz, Napier, Nicklin and
Salmons, Nunley, Sargent, Tonkin and Weil.

In Europe
Price: 1000 Belgian Francs plus shipping


costs. Order by letter from: Publication
Services, Musee Royal de I'Afrique Centrale,
B-1980 Tervuren BELGIUM

In the North America: Price US $25.00 plus
$2.00 shipping = $27.00 prepaid. Make
checks payable to Sidney L. Kasfir, Editor.
Order prepaid from Professor Sidney L
Kasfir, Art History Department, Emory
University, Atlanta, GA 30322

Send all news and announcements to
Maria Berns, University of Minnesota,
Goldstein Gallery, 250 McNeal Hall, St.
Paul, MN 55108 by NOVEMBER 15,
1989 for inclusion in the December

We encourage colleagues in Africa,
Europe and North America to send
information about exhibitions, research
projects, publications, conferences and
other activities.

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