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Spelman College Museum 'Brides of Anansi' Explores the Intersection of Fiber Media and Folktales

The Exhibition Features the Vibrant and Inventive Techniques of Eight Women Artists in Yarn, Paper, Glass, Metal, Synthetics and Textiles

ATLANTA, GA--(Marketwired - August 28, 2014) - Anansi, the Ghanaian folk hero and spider-man who is the central character in countless West African and Caribbean fables, proves an influential muse for the eight Black women artists who comprise the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art exhibition Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art. The artists spin, weave, twist, and loop fibers through the ancient lens of Anansi to create an array of colorful and commanding works on view Sept. 4 through Dec. 6, 2014.

Brides of Anansi reveals how the exhibition's featured artists use and manipulate fiber to articulate their perspectives on identity, relationships, history, experiences and artistry. They incorporate a diverse range of fiber media that display vibrant and inventive techniques in yarn, paper, glass, metal, synthetics and textiles. Like the Ghanaian trickster spider, the artists demonstrate that fiber is a medium of considerable complexity, versatility, tenacity and longevity.

The exhibition artists are Xenobia Bailey, Sonya Clark, Januwa Moja, Senga Nengudi, Nnenna Okore, Joyce J. Scott, Adejoke Tugbiyele and Saya Woolfalk. Spelman's exhibition will introduce several of the artists to a Southeast audience for the first time. 

"The Museum has an established track-record for presenting original, mission-focused, and thought provoking exhibitions that invite audiences to stretch their assumptions about the work that Black women artists create," said Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. "The works featured in Brides of Anansi are tremendous and promise to delight, intrigue, and compel."

Brides of Anansi is curated by Lowery Stokes Sims, Ph.D., chief curator of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and Leslie King-Hammond, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. The exhibition was made possible by the WISH Foundation and the LUBO Fund. Exhibition-related programs were made possible with support from the Mary Alice and Bennett Brown Foundation, Inc.

Xenobia Bailey is an American artist and designer best known for her eclectic crochet hats and large-scale crochet pieces and mandalas, consisting of colorful concentric circles and repeating patterns.

Sonya Clark is highly informed by the cultures of West Africa, in particular the Yoruba. She uses seemingly mundane objects, such as plastic combs and thread, to explore intersections between race and beauty.

Januwa Moja is a leading designer, activist, educator, and cultural activist who has created African-inspired wearable arts for more than 40 years.

Senga Nengudi's work often demonstrates her interest in the elasticity of the human body, movement, and the ways in which women's bodies are restricted by societal gender norms.

Nnenna Okore creates largely fantastic abstract environments that are inspired by textures, colors and landscapes she encounters in her daily life.

Joyce J. Scott uses wry wit and humor to tackle complex, painful subjects with refined materials. She seeks ways to insert images that relate directly to African Americans and peoples of the African Diaspora into glass art.

Adejoke Tugbiyele is a Nigerian-American multi-disciplinary artist, filmmaker and queer activist.

Saya Woolfalk is a New York-based artist who uses science fiction and fantasy to re-imagine the world in multiple dimensions.


Opening Reception and Conversation with the Curators
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
6:30 p.m.
Be among the first to view Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art and attend a gallery walk led by exhibition curators Lowery Stokes Sims, Ph.D., chief curator, the Museum of Arts and Design (New York), and Leslie King-Hammond, Ph.D., professor emeritus, Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore).

Yoga in the Museum
Mondays, September 15 - December 1
12 p.m. - 1 p.m.
Look closely at works of art on view through the lens of balance, focus and strength. Then connect these ideas with a yoga class led by certified yoga instructors. Yoga in the Museum is organized in partnership with the Spelman College Department of Health and Physical Education.

Community Day
Saturday, September 27, 2014
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
A fun-filled exploration of Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art for participants of all ages that will include make-and-take workshops, interactive tours, a Story Teller's Circle, giveaways from local cultural institutions and more. Community Day is organized in partnership with the Spelman College Department of Drama and Dance.

Community Conversations
Community Conversations invites artists, Atlanta University Center faculty, staff, and students, and friends of the Museum to connect their passions and interests to the works of art featured in Brides of Anansi.

  • Kathleen Phillips Lewis, History Department, Spelman College
    Engendering Anansi
    Wednesday, October 1, 2014
    5 p.m.
    A multi-media performance paper on how women of the Caribbean manipulated folklore and storytelling from Anansi to Aunt Nancy to exert control in their communities. This Community Conversation is organized in partnership with Spelman College's African Diaspora and the World Program, the History Department, and Telling Stories: The Ida B. Wells Barnett Collaborative.
  • Jessica Gaines, Dancer and Choreographer
    Coiffure: aBUNdance
    Thursday, November 6, 2014
    5 p.m.
    Coiffure: aBUNdance presents a tale of hair consciousness inspired by the works of Sonya Clark from Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art. Using dance influenced by modern, house, yoga, and some Afro Caribbean dance articulations, Jessica Gaines presents a dialogue-driven performance about the inference of hair as an art form and a way to impart discussion about Black female wisdom and societal complications. This Community Conversation is organized in partnership with the Spelman College Department of Drama and Dance.
  • Anansi Reconsidered: Creative, Critical, and Connected Making in Interdisciplinary Education
    Wednesday, November 12, 2014
    6:30 p.m.
    Nettrice Gaskins, Saya Woolfalk and Xenobia Bailey join in conversation to look at how contemporary women artists look at nature and natural systems for inspiration. Topics such as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) and biomimicry -- a bridge between biology and design -- will be explored. STEAM is an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that is gaining momentum in the United States and around the world. This session rethinks the cultural and artistic dimensions of these areas in conjunction with the exhibition Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art.

BLACK BOX is a site for play, dialogue, and creative risk taking that encourages artists of all disciplines to engage with others connected to their subject matter. Each program affords the opportunity for a cultural producer to share in-progress works on the art and culture of the African Diaspora in front of a live audience for feedback, engagement and encouragement. It also provides a space for arts enthusiasts to view compelling work from some of the most exciting and thought-provoking artists working today.

  • C. Nicole Mason, Ph.D.
    Wednesday, October 29, 2014
    6:30 p.m.
    Another Tomorrow: The Role of Place and Fate in Realizing the American Dream for Black Women

    Through poignant narratives and observations, C. Nicole Mason explores the truth of Black women's lives and the impact of community, race discrimination, sexism and cultural stereotypes on their ability to achieve success and access opportunity in America. This BLACK BOX is moderated by Michaela Angela Davis, image activist and writer, and organized in partnership with the Spelman College Women's Research & Resource Center and Telling Stories: The Ida B. Wells Barnett Collaborative.

To schedule a group tour of Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art, please contact Makeba Dixon-Hill, curator of education, at [email protected] or 404-270-5607.

To learn more about the exhibition Brides of Anansi: Fiber and Contemporary Art, please visit museum.spelman.edu.

To interact with the Museum and its community, share perspective on the College's art collection, and receive the latest Museum news and exclusives, follow the Museum on facebook.com/spelmanmuseum, and twitter.com/spelmanmuseum. Museum visitors are encouraged to check in on foursquare.

The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is located in the Atlanta University Center on the Spelman College campus on the first floor of the Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center at 350 Spelman Lane.

For visitors using GPS navigations systems, the following address is to the entrance of Spelman College: 440 Westview Drive, S.W. Atlanta, GA 30310.

The Museum is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m. The museum is closed Sundays, Mondays, major holidays and official College breaks. For more information about the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, visit museum.spelman.edu.

About the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
The Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is the only museum in the nation that emphasizes art by and about women of the African Diaspora. Since the Museum opened in 1996 it has established an impressive track record for organizing first-rate, mission-specific, art exhibitions that expand contemporary art offerings in Atlanta and the southeast region. It has garnered a reputation for organizing exhibitions that merit national and international attention. Milestones include being selected as the first institution from the United States that jointly (along with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston) represented the United States at the 2012 Havana Biennial in Havana, Cuba. The Museum is poised to continue its trajectory of pursuing ambitious relevant projects that have a lasting impact.

About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a highly selective, liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, Ga., the College's picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Outstanding alumnae include Children's Defense Fund Founder Marian Wright Edelman, Sam's Club CEO Rosalind Brewer, Broadway Producer Alia Jones, Former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman's first alumna President Audrey Forbes Manley, Harvard University Professor Evelynn Hammonds, Author Pearl Cleage and Actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.

The following files are available for download:

Audrey Arthur
Spelman College Office of Communications
(404) 270-5892 office
[email protected]

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