African art is often set into motion by music and dance, and to a larger degree by investing movement into artistic images of all types. These images, when animated, are carried, danced or manipulated by human hands or worn as masks atop the head or on the face; thus they become performing objects or puppets. The art of puppetry is used in African life to enhance civic and religious activities rather than solely as an entertainment medium. Puppet theatre in some African groups uses the dramatic performances for instruction, in celebration of harvests, initiations or funerals, and as satiric commentaries on topics of concern in the community, individual misbehavior, or personal eccentricities. The figures in this exhibition come mainly from three areas – the Bamana/Bozo/Somono/Malinke of Mali and Guinea; the Ibo, Ogboni, and Ibibio of southeastern Nigeria and the Yoruba and Fon of southwestern Nigeria and southeastern Benin.
Curated By: Diane Kempler and Mary Jo Arnoldi