The Philadelphia Museum of Art unveiled a new and exciting series of exhibitions on May 14th. Creative Africa, a five-part celebration of African art and culture, features centuries-old artifacts, sculptures, photography, fashion, and architecture. Head to the PMA from now until September 25th.
Creative Africa spans 400 years and fills the entire Perelman Building, a 2,000 square foot space with six different galleries. The various exhibitions open on various dates throughout the spring, but all five will be on view between May and September.
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The centerpiece of the exhibition is Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art. Bronze and ivory collections from the Penn Museum’s African galleries create an extensive display ancient artifacts, including woven textiles, gold weights, and items from the Benin kingdom.
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Audiences are privy to an intimate view of urban life throughout Africa in this exhibit. Three visionary photographers capture modern city living in locales like Cairo, Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi. Works by Akinbode Akinbiyi, Ananias Léki Dago, and Seydou Camara highlight this pictorial exploration.
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Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage focuses on the Dutch textile company Vlisco, one of the highest-producing and most influential on West and Central Africa. Colorful patterns are brought to life in this fashion-focused exhibit that showcases the bold contemporary fashions of the popular company.
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Francis Kéré is a world-renowned architect who brings his vision and creativity to the museum. Kéré’s site-specific installation for Creative Africa, called “Colorscape,” is hypnotizing, whimsical, and geometrically precise all at once. Sections of colorful string hang from the ceiling and are gently shaped by shaped frames. Guests can walk between and explore the various sections, immersing themselves in Kéré’s simple and elegant design that has already been dubbed one of the coolest things to see in Philly this summer.
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The intricate patterns of traditional African textiles and the techniques used to create them are on display in this exhibit. Highlights include a selection of Kente cloth, Asante, and Ewe material, which symbolize wealth and class. The vibrant materials create a remarkable collection of West and Central African fabrics.
In addition to the extensive variety of African artwork, Creative Africa features a handful of supplementary programs. Beginning on July 1, the museum’s Art Splash summer event features family-friendly fun like interactive gallery activities, studio art creations, and Pay What You Wish family festivals (museum admission for children under 12 is free). Nora Chipaumire, an award-winning Zimbabwean-born dancer from Brooklyn, will take part in a week-long residency at PMA that will culminate in two performances on September 23-24. In conjunction with the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, Chipaumire will present an engaging and interactive dance performance.