As you know, I've been looking closely at carving as I experiment with figurative work in the painting studio. I recently visited Houston and saw an exhibit from the Glassell Collection, "African Gold."
I fell a little bit in love with these wooden shoes from Ghana, carved and finished with gold leaf.
The sandals and this crown were both made in the part of the early 20th century. You can imagine how the lines of each figure in this crown could translate to a painting. Truly beautiful work.
Now popularized, Kente cloth was originally the fabric of Ghanian kings, woven by the Akan people on a treadle loom. The type of loom is significant. Most West African weavers were using the stripweave method.
Legend has it that two men stumbled upon a spider weaving a web in the forest, and came back with the technique that led to the kente cloth. The colors used in the weave are significant. You can read about them in this wikipedia article.
Yes, the security guards did ask me not to take photos. My immediate thought was, YOU DON'T OWN AFRICA.
I can understand the need to protect the intellectual property of a living artist (sort of), but in the age of museum 2.0, the no-photo policy seems slightly out of whack. Particularly in a gallery of ceremonial objects, produced by an unknown, unacknowledged artist, displayed a million miles from home.
Nina Simon wrote a good blog post about photo policies in museums in the digital age. What is your opinion? Should visitors be allowed to take photos of the objects on display, if conservation is not an issue?