Shangaa: Art of Tanzania: A Rare Display of African Art at QCC Art Gallery

February 7, 2013 | Queensborough Community College

Tanzania—home to Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and the Serengeti—is also a little-known source of fine African art.

Artifacts are featured in the first major exhibition of its kind in the United States: Shangaa: Art of Tanzania, February 22 – March 17, 2013, at the QCC Art Gallery. The Gallery received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for the exhibition.

“The richness of the show—which reflects the remarkable diversity of both Queensborough and the surrounding community— offers a window into a world of African art that is rarely seen,” said Faustino Quintanilla, Executive Director, QCC Art Gallery.

“The attention paid to African carvings, sculpture and paintings from Tanzania has not always enjoyed the same high profile in museums and galleries as that accorded to the more prominent arts from other African countries,” said Dr. Gary Van Wyk, guest curator of the exhibit and member of the QCC Art Gallery Advisory Council. “This current exhibit seeks to raise the awareness of a lesser recognized, but equally valuable source of traditional African Culture.”

The exhibition features more than 150 objects from renowned domestic and international institutions and private collections that highlight the diverseness of the Eastern African country. Among them are Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig; Museum für Völkerkunde Dresden; Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde München; Ethnologisches Museum- Staatliches Museen zu Berlin; and the University of Iowa Museum of Art. The display also spotlight objects from the Gallery’s acclaimed permanent African art collection, including its recent accession of the Makonde masks.

“Audiences will be challenged, engaged and inspired by the great Tanzanian cultural objects in Shangaa. For the first time in the United States, the great artistic traditions of Tanzania are brought together to expand our knowledge of East Africa. The Portland Museum of Art is very proud to bring this crucial scholarly exploration of Tanzania to our community and museum members,” said Mark Bessire, Director of the Portland Museum of Art in Portland, Maine, who plans to attend the opening. The Tanzanian exhibit will travel to the Portland Museum of Art beginning June 8-August 25, 2013.

The exhibit was designed by Michael Lapthorn, Senior Exhibit Designer, Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is organized thematically, the works on exhibition highlight how Tanzanian art is used to channel healing, embody authority, mark initiation into adulthood, address the spirits as well as celebrate life and competition. A special section showcases portraits of cross-cultural interactions throughout Tanzanian history.

The exhibit is accompanied by a publication written by Dr. Gary Van Wyk, with contributions by other leading scholars of Tanzanian art from the United States, Germany and Tanzania.

Since 1966, the QCC Art Gallery has been an integral part of Queensborough’s mission to educate its students and enrich the College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities. The Gallery, housed in the beautifully renovated, historic 1920’s Oakland Building, formally the Club House for the Oakland Golf Club, was recently awarded a Queensmark in recognition of its historical and cultural merit. Its permanent African Art collection has received critical acclaim from The New York Times. Recent major exhibits include BUNDU – Sowei Headpieces of the Sande Society of West Africa; Three Generations, a collection of drawings and paintings of Ayamonte, Spain; a photographic essay by Dan Budnik, Marching to the Freedom Dream: American Civil Rights Movement 1958-1965; Icons of Loss: The Art of Samuel Bak; and Early Chinese Pottery from a private collection.

Contact the Gallery at QCCArtGallery@qcc.cuny.edu or call 718-631-6396 for more information.