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Arts / Entertainment

The Power of African Metal

December 6, 2011

View a fascinating collection (both University and privately owned) of African metalworking at the University Art Museum. Exhibition pieces include weaponry, currency, sculptures, and ornaments that validated societal status and gender.

Tuesday-Saturday
11 a.m.-7 p.m.

The University Art Museum exhibition, "'Prestige, Wealth, and Strength: The Power of African Metal," which opened in June of this year, will close on Friday, December 16.

The exhibit includes a wide sampling of arts from the museum's collections and from private collectors.

The blacksmith's mystique

Because the work of blacksmiths in ancient, sub-Saharan Africa was so difficult and dangerous, it was viewed as mystical, even magical.  Blacksmiths held special positions in their communities.

According to oral traditions, when a village seated a new king, the ceremonies included a visit to the huts of the blacksmiths in honor of the special relationship between the king and the ironworkers.

Origins of African metalworking

African metalworking has a long and extensive history and has been dated by archeologists to the second century BCE for copper and to the first century BCE for iron.

The development of Sub-Saharan kingdoms was made possible with the knowledge and implementation of iron production. Blacksmiths held magical powers capable of forming weapons, sculpting tradable currency, and ornaments that validated societal status and gender.

Collection of wide sampling of African metal arts

In recent years new metals, like aluminum, razor and telephone wire, have been employed to express contemporary political conditions and demonstrate creative recycling. This exhibition offers viewers a wide sampling of African metal arts from the University Art Museum collections and from private collectors.

Included in the exhibition for example, are Kenyan men's aluminum lip labret/plugs, Kenyan finger knives, a Portuguese influenced Congo sword, and wrapped metals in a figural sculpture that viewers can gain access to through x-rays.

Sponsored in-part by the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund.


Contact: Jennifer Clary
E-mail: jennifer.clary@colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-2463