Talking Textiles:

Fiber Arts from West Africa

The Gordon L. Grosscup Museum is please to exhibit an array of West African textile arts, from hand-woven Kente cloth to hand-stitched applique and mass-produced commemorative cloth. These items have been collected and currated by alums and adjunct professor Dr. Karen Davis over the course of her career and several trips to West Africa. The exhibit highlights the symbolism imprinted on and woven into the cloth. Photographs and objects also allow visitors to understand the complicated manufacturing process that goes into the final products, from collecting wild plants to dying, weaving, and tailoring.

 

This exhibit will be on display at the Gordon L. Grosscup Museum of Anthropology starting September 20, 2022. Admission to the museum is free.  For group visits please call ahead – (313) 577-6455 or e-mail grosscupmuseum@wayne.edu.

 

From Allada to Detroit:

Storytelling through material culture in the African diaspora

 


'Storyteller' by an unnamed artist
Embossed copper relief, made in Benin, West Africa

The Gordon L. Grosscup Museum of Anthropology is pleased to host a new exhibit highlighting a selection of objects gathered by Dr. Guerin Montilus to illustrate religious symbolism across the African diaspora.

Through years of relationships formed during ethnographic fieldwork, anthropologists learn to see the web of connections between stories, symbols and material culture. Dr. Montilus, Professor of Anthropology at Wayne State University, began his career doing fieldwork in Benin, West Africa, where he was eventually installed as a prince of the Kingdom of Tori-Bossito and introduced to the cultural and religious practices and beliefs of the community. He later expanded his fieldwork to Haiti, Cuba and Detroit, following the paths of the African diaspora. Throughout this time, he has created an extensive and unique collection of material culture that reveals the symbols and stories of religions, showing both their interconnectedness and diversity. These items have layers of stories, evident through their symbolism, materiality and use. Material objects transmit not only history and human activity, but also symbolic meaning in the ideas they convey, and way they are produced and used.

The objects in this exhibition are a sampling of those that Dr. Montilus shares with his students here at Wayne State University. Through both his on-campus and study abroad courses Montilus emphasizes the importance of material culture as a creation, and reflection, of the stories that need to be told at a given place and time. This exhibition includes objects created in a variety of media by artists from West Africa, Haiti, Cuba and Detroit. These objects reflect a variety of artistic styles and deities, while sharing recognizable symbols signifying retention of shared ideas and practices.

This exhibit will be on display at the Gordon L. Grosscup Museum of Anthropology starting September 29, 2021. Admission to the museum is free.  For group visits please call ahead – (313) 577-6455 or e-mail grosscupmuseum@wayne.edu.

 

For group visits and guided tours, please e-mail the museum to schedule your visit.

Make a gift

 

1227 Old Main (first floor)
4841 Cass Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201 (map)
GrosscupMuseum@wayne.edu

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