The Spelman College permanent collection dates to the 1940s and includes more than 350 objects. The growing collection also includes African art and works by celebrated artists of African descent. To honor its unique mission, the Museum acquires art that highlights the wide spectrum of works that women artists of the African Diaspora create. Look forward to a monthly inside peek on a work from the College’s permanent collection.
Nandipha Mntambo, Mlwa ne Nkunzi
Nandipha Mntambo is recognized as a leading artist in South Africa. She investigates and interrogates stereotypical ideals of the female form, as well as notions of femininity in her art. Mlwa ne Nkunzi is a diptych in which the artist is posed as the matador (Mlwa) in one of the photographic panels and as the bull (Nkunzi) in the other. Mlwa ne Nkunzi references a Swazi fighting ritual and recalls the bullfighting of colonial Mozambique and modern day Portugal.
Employing cowhide as a medium, the artist questions the use of conventional art materials and products. Additionally, because the cowhides must be manipulated and shaped, she works through aspects of control. She further explores the broader themes sexuality, male and female, internal and public, conflict and contest, and the thin line between the repulsive and attractive. Through Mntambo’s study of the spectacle of bullfighting, the artist deftly addresses the cross-cultural struggles around gender-definition.
Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry, Man with Dignity and Woman with Dignity, 2008
Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry have worked and exhibited their work internationally. Through their large-scale public projects, performative sculpture, painting, photography, video, and self-portraiture, they explore complex issues revolving around marginalized members of society. They also challenge audiences to face issues of race and social justice in communities, history, and the family. Embedded within their work, whether it is of an historical, personal, or civic-based nature, is their ability to address the complicated and layered issues of race and power as a mixed-race artists collaborative.
Man with Dignity and Woman with Dignity are from Whitewash, a series of paintings that examines the history of race in the United States through the depiction of social injustice during the civil rights era. A striking combination of painting and photography, the artists’ distinctive process for this series was inspired by the concept of ‘whitewashing’ as a means of masking the truth. With an almost three-dimensional effect, these doubled images stand as a visual metaphor for the variety of ways that memory and history are both similar and different.