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Exhibitions

Lega Artist, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Figure, unknown date, ivory. Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 (M84-017)
Igbo Artist, Nigeria, “Spirit Elephant” Headdress (Ogbodo Enyi), 20th century, wood and pigment. Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 (M84-168)
Yoruba Artist, Nigeria, Iroke Ifa (Divination Tapper), ivory. Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 (M84-435) Photo: Bernard Clark
Lega Artist, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pendant, unknown date, ivory. Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 (M84-029)
Songye Artist, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pendant, unknown date, ivory. Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 (M84-010)
The Art of African Ivory
African Gallery
28 April 2018–12 April 2020

Africans have traded raw and carved ivory for centuries. Its lustrous sheen makes it desirable, as does the brute majesty of its source: Africa is home to the world’s largest elephants. Across continents, ivory objects are used in rituals—rites of prestige and pageantry rolled into one. Desired by a range of bodies—political, social, medicinal, religious—ivory sparks discussion of history and debates about ecological and wild-life preservation.

This exhibition showcases works donated by Justin and Elisabeth Lang. Visitors will discover how Africans have used ivory to teach morality, convey social standing, heal wounds, safeguard communities and commercially profit.

CURATOR

Dr Shannen Hill is Research Associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and President of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association. She is author of Biko’s Ghost: The Iconography of Black Consciousness (2015) and a former Fellow of the J. Paul Getty Foundation and the Smithsonian Institution.

The Art of African Ivory, cover

You can  download the brochure or pick up a copy
in the gallery while supplies last.

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