Oberlin, OH - The fine arts packing and transportation team of Ron Kartler and Charles Eiben recently packed and moved to the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio important pieces for the exhibition called Engaging Spirits, Empowering Man: Sculpture of Central and West Africa now on display in the King Sculpture Court and East Gallery from September 1 - December 23, 2009.
The dynamic sculptural works from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, and other African countries were prepared and moved from a private collection and supplement the AMAM’s permanent collection of African art, which has a strong emphasis on West African art of the Yoruba peoples.
While they are aesthetically engaging, the masks, furniture, and other works on view also played a critical role in the spiritual life of the community. These functional objects were used in public and private rituals, including initiations, masquerades, processions, and funerals, seeking to mediate the physical world of man with the closely related world of spirits and ancestors. Themes such as fertility and women, temporal power, initiation, agricultural prosperity, and divination emerge as focal points of traditional African life, engaging both the individual and the community.
This exhibition was curated by Mara Spece (OC ’10) to support a variety of courses taught at Oberlin College in fall 2009. Funding for the exhibition was provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the PoGo Family Foundation. Founded in 1917, the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) is one of the finest college or university collections in the United States. Comprising nearly 14,000 works of art from virtually every culture and spanning the history of art, the AMAM's collection is a vital cultural resource for the students, faculty, and staff of Oberlin College as well as the surrounding community.