African Art Museum Essay

732 Words 3 Pages
men, twelve long rectangular sheets of color paper transitioning from light green, blue, purple, orange, and yellow and a painting of the man facing towards the audience while standing on top of a cliff overlooking the ocean during the time of a sunset. As I continue to look my eyes caught a quote on a mustard color wall. A particular section of the quote sparked my curiosity. It stated, “As a cradle of humanity, Africa is a part of everyone’s heritage.” What strikes me as odd, is the fact that this statement claims that “Africa is a part of everyone’s heritage”, however, the National Museum of African Art is one of the smallest museums within the Smithsonian. If the above statement is true than why is this museum not bigger? This goes to show …show more content…
Inside the museum is shaped like a donut. The staircase twist around the open center allowing visitors, such as myself, to view the lower levels. Walking down the stairs I am faced with a slow motion picture being screened on a wall just before the end of the main stairs. This clip encapsulates James Ferguson’s Introduction in Global Shadows. In the movie there is a white clothed table. Surrounding the table are five African people. On the right side of the table there are three men two of which are military. One of the military men was sitting at the table while the other was positioned in front of the table with a gun pointed at the third man who was shirtless. Beside them was another man who was drinking alcohol. Next to this men are two females, one woman and a little girl. They are helplessly watching while the shirtless man is being gunned down. On the left side of the table are three people who were sowing material, however they got into an altercations. One of the men in the fight was holding an American flag. While all of this is happening, in the middle of the table was a Caucasian male in a red chair. His arms were stretched out as if saying “Look at them. Look how they act”. This motion feature depicted “Africa as a scar on the conscience of the world”, as the “dark continent” filled with war and poverty (Ferguson, 2). Beyond the film, the stairs leads to another foyer which splits off …show more content…
I entered in to the exhibit of Conversation: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue created by Bill and Camille Cosby. My eyes roamed over the first set of paintings until they found their target. This painting was breathtaking. It was very exotic and majestic. It featured a beautiful reflective river with boats sailing on it. These boats were headed towards steps where other were already unloading and continuing on to castle liked structures. Surrounding the river was a cliff with a waterfall as well as a jungle. In this jungle were exotic women dressed sensually. One of the women had her arms stretched opened as if welcoming the viewer to this land of mystery. This painting brings about a point in Edward Said’s Orientalism. Said states, “the Orient was almost a European invention, and had been since antiquity a place of romance, exotic beings, haunting memories and landscapes, remarkable experiences” (Said, 1). The painting also exemplifies Malek Alloula’s claim on symbolic violence and how “painters and photographers [are] forever thirsty for exoticism” (Alloula, 3). In the same section I discovered another painting whose description brought to mind a common stereotype about African people. The painting was called Mrs. Thomas Donovan and Elinor Donovan created by Joshua Johnston. The painting wasn’t the most expressive. It was hardly colorful. Joshua Johnston was charged in painting a picture

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