Peace, Power & Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa

January 28, 2022 - April 3, 2022

A yellow metal reliquary in the shape of a person's face and upper body

The exhibition Peace, Power & Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa explores the roles of metal objects in sustaining, unifying, and enhancing life in African communities while demonstrating the aesthetic and expressive power of metal arts. For millennia, African metalsmiths have drawn upon the inherent power and beauty of metal to create dazzling and enduring objects, including body adornment and currency items, for proclaiming wealth and social status; staffs, scepters, weaponry, and other regalia as emblems of leadership and authority; and amulets and sacred objects used in spiritual mediation and healing. The exhibition of over 140 pieces includes a diverse range of iron, brass, bronze, gold, copper, silver, and alloyed works created by artists in Sub-Saharan Africa between the twelfth and twenty-first centuries. The selected objects are from the collection of the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida and from private collections, most notably that of Drs. John and Nicole Dintenfass.

Image credit:
Kota-Obamba or Mindimbu artist, Gabon, Reliquary Guardian Figure (Mbulu Ngulu), 19th century, brass, copper, wood, 21 1/2 x 11 5/8 x 3 1/2 in. Collection of Drs. Nicole and John Dintenfass, L 2021.14.68.

Peace, Power & Prestige: Metal Arts in Africa is organized by the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida and curated by Susan Cooksey, Retired Curator of African Art. This exhibition is made possible with support from the UF Office of the Provost, Dr. Richard H. Davis and Mrs. Jeanne G. Davis, the C. Frederick and Aase B. Thompson Foundation, the UF Office of Research, Drs. David and Rebecca Sammons, the UF International Center, the Margaret J. Early Endowment, Visit Gainesville Alachua County, the Harn Anniversary Fund, Marcia Isaacson, Roy Hunt, Robin and Donna Poynor, UF Center for African Studies, Kenneth and Laura Berns, and retired Lt. Col. David A. Waller, with additional support from the Harn Program Endowment, the Harn Annual Fund, and a group of generous donors.