A Yombe ivory carving.

From 1895, in the style of the Yombe Pfemba fertility figures.

 From 1895, in the style of the Yombe Pfemba fertility figures.

 

  • During the Fall semesters of 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2005, I taught “Evocative African Art” as part of the Discover New York program within the new St. John’s Univ. Core Curriculum. The courses were taught using web pages in a computer equipped classroom. Students showed their own web sites that they had created during the course at the Discover New York Research Day each December. The courses were all resounding successes. Each term, we made two field trips to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. During Fall semester, 2005, we included a tour of the exhibition of Gary Schulze’s African Art at the Art Gallery of the Queensborough Community College. The syllabus of the 2005 course can be seen at the web site: http://facpub.stjohns.edu/~watsonw/AFRICAN05/DNYSyllabus.htm
    Each semester, I adapt the web pages and notes of the course to emphasize the effect of slavery on the various cultures of African-Americans in New York City in order to participate in the team teaching of the Honors Section of Discover New York on Immigration presented by the St. John’s Univ. Committee on Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS).
  • My collection of African Art has grown substantially in the past few years. One of my particular favorites is a small ivory carving from the Yombe people of southwestern Congo and northern Angola depicting a grieving mother and her dead infant. This piece was shown in the “Perpetuating the Culture: Mother and Child Images in African Art” exhibition at the Hillwood Art Museum on the C. W. Post Campus of Long Island University in Brookville, NY during August, September and October of 2002. I recently acquired a wonderful five foot high wooden statue of a Dogon man from the late eighteenth century and a fabulous, but malodorous, “bulletproof” hunter’s jacket, called a Batakari, from the Mande people in Mali. It dates from the end of the nineteenth century. The hunter’s jacket was successfully deodorized in a vacuum chamber and now hangs in the dining room. Another piece from my collection, a wooden Dogon ancestor figure, was shown in the “African Sculpture – Symbols of Culture” exhibition at the Donnell Center of the New York City Public Library during September and October of 2003. There was also an excellent show entitled “Symbolic Use of Animals in African Cultural Arts,” at the Walt Whitman Center in Camden, NJ from November 18, 2004 to February 28, 2005. Two Masks from my collection were on display ( a Luba/Songye owl mask and a Bwa Honbo Rooster mask). From December, 2004 until April, 2005, the African American Art Museum of Nassau County in Hempstead, NY presented an exhibition of African Art entitled, “Symbols of Culture” in which five of my pieces were featured, including a pair of Senufo Rhythm pounders, representing the primordial couple, a Dogon satimbe mask, a non-typical Bamana Tyi-wara mask and the Batakari. A beautiful Fang reliquary guardian, from Gabon, along with its bark wood coffin is a featured pice of my collection. In 2005, I finally completed my collection of all three Kuba Mwaash masks.