By Tenae Taylor
The curators of the “Perceptions: Encounters with African Art” exhibit at the Florida A&M University (FAMU) School of Architecture Gallery want visitors to really engage with the displays.
As you walk into the gallery, you will notice sticky notes on a white wall with instructions to write down your observations of any desired piece. Before reading the labels, you write down your initial thoughts then proceed to read the label and record what you’ve learned.
The showcase, which is free and open to the public until Nov. 8, features an array of African artifacts from the Visual Arts Program’s Fine Arts Collection, still life drawings, paintings and student research. Courtnay Micots, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history in the College of Social Science, Arts & Humanities, curated the exhibit with students from her African Art History course. Each artifact is labeled with research from the professor and students.
“Our belief system and our thoughts about things are different than what they are in other cultures,” said Micots, who studied African Art History at the University of Florida and worked in museums for more than 12 years. Her passion for cross-cultural issues and visual studies within global Africa and the diaspora flows through her works and teachings.
Micots said there is so much people need to know about African Art.
“We have to learn about it,” she said. “We have to learn how they used it, what it means to them in order to fully understand it.”
Imani Carter, a fine arts major who conducted research and helped install the exhibit, has always loved African art.
“It was a wonderful, educational experience to learn the ins and outs of putting together an exhibit with a group of people,” Carter said. “It gave a sense of pride to many students in the program to see their own work being displayed.”
Micots grouped the students into three teams. They were assigned to design, install, and work on the educational programming — hence the Post-it notes. That helped bring the exhibition to life.
“When people think of beautiful art pieces, their minds tend to automatically think of European art,” Carter said. “I think what makes this exhibit powerful and eye-opening is that it focuses on perceptions of the pieces and not just the information and research behind them.”
What: “Perceptions: Encounters with African Art”
Where: Walter L. Smith Architecture Building (Gallery near main entrance)
1938 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Tallahassee, Florida
When: Visiting hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, until Nov. 8. Closed on weekends.
For more information: Email [email protected]