An initiative of the Museum of Art and Design in New York and the Center for Race and Culture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, the Global Africa Project aims to engage and define the notion of a “Global Africa” and what it means in terms of art, design and craft.
Curated by Lowery Stokes Sims and showing at the Museum of Art and Design until 15 May 2011, Global Africa attempts to include previously under represented creative voices, examining the influence of African art across the globe. The Global Africa Project does however not define an overarching African identity or aesthetic but rather presents stories of individuals working in the psychic and physical space that is “Africa”.
The African experience as expressed in design, art and craft incorporates both traditional and contemporary forms of creativity and phenomena unique to the African diapsora.
As an interdisciplinary exhibition the project covers all creative genres and attempts to capture the inter-relatedness between various genres. Ceramics, basketry, textiles, jewellery, furniture and decorative art feature prominently in the exhibition but fashion, architecture, photography and sculpture are also present.
The exhibition is organised around broad themes that reflect the strategies of concept and production in the contemporary art world. The themes are "Branding Content", "Intersecting Cultures", "Competing Globally", "Sourcing Locally", "Transforming Traditions" and "Building Communities".
Interestingly, much of the featured creativity and artistic activity revolves around women, highlighting the gender nuance present in art and design on the continent. The female aspect of the exhibition also draws attention to the possibility for art, design and craft to be used as an economic engine in Africa as well as the possibility for individual entrepreneurship.
The Global Africa Project also draws attention to some of the most pressing challenges faced by designers, artists and crafters, like the lack of government support and working to morph into a global commercial entity from a community context.
Placing professionals next to self-taught craftspeople, the exhibition features the work of more than 60 artists from Africa, Europe, Asia and North America and includes the likes of David Adyaje, Stephen Burks, Lolo Veleko and Zwelethu Mthethwa. Design Indaba Expo exhibitors participating in the exhibition include Heath Nash, Beverly Price, Egg Design, willowlamp and zenzulu.