African Cosmos: Stellar Arts
African Cosmos: Stellar Arts is the first major exhibition to explore the historical legacy of African cultural astronomy and its intersection with traditional and contemporary African arts. For millennia, Africans have gazed upon the celestial firmament, made sense of the heavenly bodies above them, and used their observations to chart movements through the physical environment and regulate agricultural and ritual calendars. The exhibition considers how the sun, moon and stars, as well as celestial phenomena such as lightning and rainbows, inspire African arts from ancient times to the present. An outstanding selection of work includes ancient Egyptian sculpture, traditional Dogon masks of Mali, Yoruba divination instruments from Nigeria, and creations by contemporary South African artists.
This exhibition was organized by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art and curated by Dr. Christine Mullen Kreamer.
Image: Gavin Jantjes, South Africa, Untitled, 1989–1990, Acrylic on canvas, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, purchased with funds provided by the Smithsonian Collections Acquisition Program, 96-23-1, Photograph by Franko Khoury.
This video, narrated by CCH Pounder, explores the themes of the exhibition, including the connection between earth and sky in the art and culture of many African peoples.