KEY TO THE CITY

Global becomes local

Harn Museum of Art and University Gallery


Published: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 at 2:29 p.m.

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At the Harn, “Kongo Across the Waters,” which runs through March 23, features more than 160 artifacts and works of art from five centuries of Kongo culture, many of which have never been displayed in a museum setting.

One of the great advantages of living in a university community is how often the world's cultures arrive at our door — especially in our museums and galleries.

The University Gallery on campus and the Harn Museum of Art are currently hosting comprehensive exhibits highlighting the artistic treasures of two rich cultures.

At the Harn, “Kongo Across the Waters,” which runs through March 23, features more than 160 artifacts and works of art from five centuries of Kongo culture, many of which have never been displayed in a museum setting.

“What is important to understand is that this exhibition is about an African culture that has considerable historical depth,” says Hein Vanhee, curator of African collections at the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, which co-organized the exhibit and supplied many of the works.

“The Royal Museum has the deepest, most impressive collection of Central African work, I think, anywhere in the world,” says Susan Cooksey, the Harn's Curator of African Art.

The west-central African kingdom of Kongo grew to be a major Atlantic presence in the 16th century. The transatlantic slave trade brought many Kongo people and artifacts to the Americas.

The exhibit's five main sections move forward in time while weaving back and forth across the Atlantic, and includes pieces from the early days of the Kongo kingdom, to Kongo influences brought by slaves to the American Southeast, to works from 19th-century Africa showing Western influences on Kongo culture.

The fourth section depicts deep Kongo influences on African-American art and culture in the U.S. The exhibit ends with a contemporary look at how Kongo traditions continue to influence artists on both sides of the Atlantic.

At the University Gallery, UF alumna Mahin Ghanbari's collection of Persian textiles spanning centuries are on display in the “Garden of the Heart's Desire: Selections from the Golzar Collection” exhibit, running from December 3 to February 7.

The exhibition features fine textiles primarily used in affluent households. The hand-embroidery includes hammered gold and silver threads and traditional paisley patterns woven into fabrics from cottons to silks to wool.

Curated by Gallery graduate assistant E. Bennett Jones, the exhibition also features artworks containing natural imagery: flowers, plants, animals, human figures and organic designs.

— By Jovahn Huertas and Amy Viglante, director of the University Gallery

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS AT THE HARN

“Kongo Across the Waters,”

through March 23

Dec. 7: Basket-Making Class — Guest artist Sarah Hammond offers instruction on making sweet-grass baskets to create a small coiled basket of your own, noon-4 p.m. ($80 per person, $70 for Harn members; to register, call Lisa Stevens at 392-9826, ext. 2113 or send email to lstevens@harn.ufl.edu.)

Jan. 26: Gallery Talk — Robin Poynor, professor of African Art at UF, discusses “The Kongo Class: A Motif over Time and Space,” 3 p.m.

Feb. 13: Museum Nights — A celebration of art and culture from throughout Africa, with a special focus on “Kongo Across the Waters,” 6-9 p.m.

Feb. 15: Family Day — Participate in tours and an art activity relating to the “Kongo Across the Waters” exhibit, 1-4 p.m.

March 16: Gallery Talk — Carlee Forbes, Harn curatorial assistant, discusses a topic relating to “Kongo Across the Waters,” 3 p.m.

AT THE UNIVERSITY GALLERY

“Garden of the Heart's Desire: Selections from the Golzar Collection,”

December 3 to February 7.

Jan. 10: Collector's Discussion — 2 p.m. at the University Gallery

Jan. 10: Members' private preview — 6-7 p.m; public reception, 7-9 p.m.

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