DEDICATED TO THE URHOBO PEOPLE OF
Perkins Foss, Ph. D.
This exhibition is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Council for the Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
February 5, 2004, New York, NY –
The Museum for
opens its new exhibition, Where Gods and Mortals Meet: Continuity
Renewal in Urhobo Art, displayed in the main Museum Gallery from April
9, 2004 until August 16, 2004.
Curated by Dr.
Perkins Foss, this is the first
exhibition to focus exclusively
on the art and culture of the Urhobo people.
This exhibit will introduce many artworks never before seen in
Gods and Mortals Meet
addresses the effort to preserve culture, religion and art in the face
modernization and raises issues of global importance.
This exhibition is an attempt by the
worldwide Urhobo community to portray their culture to their own
well as to outsiders. It introduces the
spiritual beliefs, social and economic life and the role that art plays
the Urhobo peoples, who occupy the western fringe of the Niger River
addition to the traditional art
of the Urhobo, each section of the exhibition also includes works by
internationally renowned, Nigerian painter and master printmaker, Bruce
Onobrakpeya. An Urhobo by birth and
The eighty-one works that make up this show have been organized into six sections that display and analyze the forms and underlying aesthetic values of Urhobo life, through art in several social and historical contexts:
Section 1: Land, People, Belief
This introductory section situates the Urhobo and establishes important aspects of their art and religion. Included here is a photo-mural of a medicine shrine, along with a display of fifteen cast brass and bronze sculptures that are associated with the shrine.
Section 2: Images of Aggression
This area presents personal shrine art, that both enhances personal aggressiveness and assists individuals in controlling excessive amounts of it.
Section 3: Celebrating the Stages in Women’s Lives
This section showcases twelve figural representations, masks, female dance groups and photographs of idealized beauty that contrast the important role of women in Urhobo society, with the ideal for men.
Section 4: Communal Shrine Statuary for Ancestor Spirits
This section invites visitors to experience a reconstructed Urhobo shrine, which represents the founding ancestors as a family unit, commemorating the power that is necessary for the survival and establishment of the community. The huge figures are presented half hidden, as they would originally have been, their awesomeness emphasized by their concealment.
Section 5: Spirits from the Waters
This visual display highlights the artworks and elaborate performances that celebrate various water spirits. A reconstruction of an 18- foot mask and videos of mask performances, recreate the mixture of fear and wonder that results from spirits entering the village.
Section 6: Pride and Preservation
center provides a contemporary perspective on Urhobo art and culture
recent photographs and information on current cultural and artistic
in Urhoboland. Paintings by Bruce Onobrakpeya illustrate the effort to preserve
identity in a diaspora that has taken them
Gods and Mortals
and Renewal in
Urhobo Art will be presented at the
Museum for African Art from April
to August 2004 and will then travel to The Museum of Art,
About Dr. Perkins Foss:
Dr. Foss is a lecturer, professor and profound scholar of Urhobo culture. His works have been published in academic journals and publications on the subjects of the Urhobo peoples, art and religion. Dr. Foss’s papers have been presented at symposiums, museums, universities and conferences across the world. Dr. Foss will provide vast expertise and knowledge at the Museum for African Art during his guest curatorial tenure on the Where Gods and Mortals Meet.
About The Museum for African Art:
The Museum for African Art is
the only independent museum
Museum Location and Hours:
Monday, Thursday, Friday –
Saturday and Sunday –
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday
Please go to www.africanart.org for transit information.
Michelle L. Huff
Lisa Lori Communications
212.925.2300 ext. 224