Spheres of Influence: African Vessels from the KAM Collection

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Spheres of Influence, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2016. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly.
Spheres of Influence, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2016. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly.

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Spheres of Influence, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2016. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly.
Spheres of Influence, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2016. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly.

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Spheres of Influence, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2016. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly.
Spheres of Influence, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2016. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly.

Exhibition

On view
Jan 29, 2016 to May 15, 2016
Main Level - Asian Gallery

Spheres of Influence features a selection of 23 ceramic pots from regions across Africa. Visually compelling for their robust yet elegant forms and beautifully restrained surface designs, these vessels are also highly social objects. 

Used for storing grains or personal possessions, cooking, brewing beer, containing and cooling water, housing spirits or medicinal substances, or as communicative devices and markers of prestige, pots perform critical roles in the everyday, ceremonial, and political lives of their communities.

Made predominantly by women artists with deep knowledge of local materials, molding and firing techniques, and the logics of design and efficient form, pots also embody a politics of gender. Women’s close identification with their vessels and control over the process of their production attest to the power of women’s creative labor and their ability to transform earth into containers of enduring meaning, value, and sociality.

Spheres of Influence is enhanced by strategic loans from Spurlock Museum and local private collections, and includes excerpts from the film African Pottery Techniques, produced by Christopher Roy, professor of African Art History at University of Iowa. (Filmed in 2001-2002.) The film will not be shown in its entirety; instead clips displayed in the exhibition demonstrate a number of forming techniques used by expert women potters in Burkina Faso and Ghana, West Africa.

Curated by Allyson Purpura

Special thanks to Carol Spindel, Doug Dawson, Kathleen Bickford-Berzock, Maria Berns, and Susan Vogel for lending their expertise to this exhibition. Additional thanks to Sarah Richter for her research on KAM's collection of African vessels.

Exhibitions and programs at Krannert Art Museum are partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

 

Ricker Library of Architecture and Art has developed a library guide with details about this exhibition, as well as supplementary materials and curator-recommended readings: Library Guide to Spheres of Influence: African Vessels from the KAM Collection

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