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es MoinesArt Center examines art and culture of Africa in Field, Road, Cloud: Art and Africa

Posted February 03, 2015 in Web Exclusives


DES MOINES, IA (January 2015) On Saturday, February 14, 2015, the Des Moines
Art Center will open Field, Road, Cloud: Art and Africa. The exhibition will be on view through April 19, 2015 in the Anna K. Meredith Gallery.

Field, Road, Cloud: Art and Africa is an exploration of this wide-ranging territory through the framework of contemporary art and the extensive holdings of African art in the Des Moines Art Center permanent collections. Approximately 117 African works have been acquired since the 1960s, including masks, ceramics, textiles, and ceremonial objects from regions such as Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, and Nigeria, and many of which will be displayed for the first time in this exhibition. These works will be installed alongside the work of contemporary artists in an effort to spark new conversations around geography, colonization, and the import/export of culture. The title of the exhibition takes inspiration from a work of art by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar entitled Field, Road, Cloud (1997) (above), which is comprised of three photographic fragments of a landscape along with small diagrammatic drawings. Together the photos and drawings indirectly disclose the geographic sites and the staggering statistics of the Rwandan genocide of 1996.

Field, Road, Cloud: Art and Africa is intended to be an exhibition that exposes many of the connective tissues between the art and life of the vast continent of Africa, while highlighting the role that Africa has played in the evolution of globalized culture as we know it.

Contemporary artists include: Leonce Raphael Agbodjélou (Beninese, b. 1965), El Anatsui (Ghanaian, b. 1944), Radcliffe Bailey (American, b. 1968), NickCave (American, b. 1959), Meschac Gaba (Beninese, b. 1961), Romuald Hazoumè (Beninese, b. 1962), Alfredo Jaar (Chilean, b. 1956) and William Kentridge (South African, b. 1955).

Field, Road, Cloud: Art and Africa is organized by Senior Curator Gilbert Vicario.

Related Programs

Gallery Talk
Sunday, February 15 / noon
Anna K. Meredith Gallery

Senior Curator Gilbert Vicario will discuss the exhibition.

Gallery Talk
Christopher Roy, professor of art history and Elizabeth M. Stanley Faculty Fellow of
African Art History at the University of Iowa
Thursday, March 5 / 6:30 pm
Anna K. Meredith Gallery
*Reservations required

Professor Christopher Roy is a leading scholar in the field of African art history. He has taught at the University of Iowa since 1978 and to date, 26 students at major institutions all over America have received Ph.D’s supervised by Professor Roy.

Roy evaluated the Art Center’s collection of African objects in the late 1990s and wrote the essay, “Tribal Arts” for the museum’s An Uncommon Vision catalogue, ©1998.

Yoga + Gallery Talk
Saturday, March 7
8:30 am / Yoga (instructor James Miller)
Lobby / 75 minutes
10 am / Gallery Talk (20 minutes)
*Reservations required
Limit 50; participants should bring yoga mats

“The Landscape of Environmental Poverty in Africa”
Kelly Baker, assistant professor, Occupational and Environmental Health
at the University of Iowa
Thursday, March 19 / 6:30 pm
Levitt Auditorium
*Reservations required

As of 2013, WHO-UNICEF estimated that more than 2.5 billion people worldwide still lacked access to a toilet and 768 million lacked access to an improved water source. Furthermore, evidence has revealed that the burden of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-associated disease is more expansive than previously thought, including broad mental and physical health impacts that can last a lifetime.

Professor Baker will discuss how the persistence of WASH-related disease in Africa has demonstrated that disease transmission involves complex human behaviors, which won’t be changed through just engineering-based approaches.

Artist Lecture
Nick Cave in Conversation with Gilbert Vicario
Thursday, April 2 / 6:30 pm
Levitt Auditorium
*Reservations required

Nick Cave is an artist, educator, and foremost a messenger, working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums including sculpture, installation, video, sound, and performance. He says of himself, “I have found my middle and now am working toward what I am leaving behind.” Field, Cloud, Road includes Cave’s sculpture Property, 2014, which continues to reflect on themes of social consciousness and identity.

*FREE reservations can be made at by clicking on the EVENT RESERVATIONS bubble on the homepage and indicating the event to be attended (Roy, Yoga, Baker, and/or Cave) or by calling 515.271.0313 beginning February 10.

Field Road CloudLocal[1]

Alfredo Jaar (Chilean, born 1955)
Field, Road, Cloud, 1997
Three color cibachrome prints and three black and white prints
Color: 39 3⁄4 x 59 3⁄4 inches
Black and white: 5 7/8 x 9 inches
Edition of 5, plus 1 a.p.
Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Schulte Gallery, Berlin

Des Moines Art Center

Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection’s overriding principle is a representation of artists from the 19th century to the present, each through a seminal work. This accounts for an impressive collection that ranges from Edward Hopper’s Automat to Jasper Johns’ Tennyson, Henri Matisse’s Woman in White, Georgia O’Keeffe’s From the LakeNo. 1, Francis Bacon’s
Study after Velásquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, Bill Viola’s Ascension, and
Cecily Brown’s Half-Bind.

The Art Center’s physical complex marries with the collection for a totally integrated experience. The collection is housed in three major buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect – Eliel Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and Richard Meier. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free.

In September 2009, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park opened in
Des Moines’ WesternGateway Park. Philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn have provided funding for and donated28 sculptures by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to the Des Moines Art Center. The collection of sculptures by such artists as Louise Bourgeois, Deborah Butterfield, Willem de Kooning, Olafur Eliasson, Keith Haring, Ellsworth Kelly, Jaume Plensa, Richard Serra, Joel Shapiro, and Mark di Suvero, is the most significant donation of artwork to the Art Center in a single gift in the museum’s history. The Pappajohn Sculpture Park is a collaboration of the Pappajohns, the City of Des Moines, the Des MoinesArt Center, and numerous corporate and private donors.

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