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June Issue 2010

Spartanburg Art Museum in Spartanburg, SC, Features Masks from James Mendes Collection

The Spartanburg Art Museum in Spartanburg, SC, is presenting selection of African Masks from The James Mendes Collection of African and Oceanic Art, on view through June 26, 2010. A self-described ethnographer, Mendes collects relics and artifacts, primarily from African, Oceanic, and Tibetan cultures.

According to one source, the African continent is mother to approximately 120 major tribes and 450 sub-tribes. Many of these tribes flow across the borders of several countries and, in some cases, whole regions. Each tribe has its own distinct culture and history.

This exhibition focuses on the masks of seven tribes of Western and Central Africa: Mende, Baule, Ikbo, Pende, Chokwe, Dan, and Kuba. Masks from these tribes are grouped together so the visitor can more easily discern and compare stylistic conventions within and between tribes. Additional masks from other tribes are also included in this exhibit.

The variety of the masks in this exhibit is noteworthy. They run the gamut from geometric abstraction to realism. Some are simply carved, while others are highly finished. There are those that are adorned with paint, raffia and animal skin. Others are elaborately embellished with glass beads and cowry shells.

The fifty or so masks found in this exhibit represent only a portion of Mendes's African collection, which includes, figures, miscellaneous objects, and more masks. A second exhibition at The Spartanburg Art Museum, featuring artifacts that have not been included in the current exhibit, has tentatively been planned for the future.

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 864/582-7616 or visit (www.spartanburgartmuseum.org).

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