Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa

April 23–September 14, 2014

The news today is replete with reports on territorial disputes, resource extraction, and other forces that impact and endanger the environment. These timely issues lie at the heart of Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa, which uses the work of artists to examine the conceptually complex and visually rich relationship between individuals and communities in Africa and the land upon which they live. 
The exhibition features more than one hundred exceptional works of art from the 19th–21st centuries, including powerful ritual sculpture and masks as well as paintings, photographs, videos, and sculpture by forty-one internationally recognized and emerging contemporary artists from the continent and its diasporas—among them Ghada Amer, El Anatsui, Sammy Baloji, Wangechi Mutu, Allan deSouza, IngridMwangiRobertHutter, and William Kentridge. Earth Matters invites us to consider the earth as a sacred or medicinal material, the site of mining and burial, a source of inspiration, and an environment in need of protection.
Debuting at the Fowler with a special opening event on Earth Day (Tuesday, April 22), Earth Matters is the first major exhibition to approach the topic with such geographic breadth and chronological depth, and artistic diversity.
Contemporary Artists:

Aboudramane Sam Nhlengethwa
Jida Alajika Otobang Nkanga
Ghada Amer Charles Okereke
El Anatsui António Ole
Sammy Baloji George Osodi
Berry Bickle Nyaba Leon Ouedraogo
Jerry Buhari Owanto
Bakary Emmanuel Daou Georgia Papageorge
Allan deSouza Dawit L. Petros
Nakunte Diarra Thabiso Phokompe
Christine Dixie Andrew Putter
Ben Enwonwu Jo Ratcliffe
Reza Farkhondeh Younès Rahmoun 
David Goldblatt Berni Searle
Dan Halter Batoul S'himi
IngridMwangiRobertHutter Mikhael Subotzky
William Kentridge Tchif
Helga Kohl Clive van den Berg
Santu Mofokeng Diane Victor
Wangechi Mutu Graeme Williams
  Abdoulaye Ndoye


Selected objects from the exhibition:

Seeking Refuge, 2008, Berni Searle, b. 1964, South Africa, Streaming video, Courtesy Michael Stevenson Gallery
Teke artist, Republic of the Congo, Buti or nkiba (healing figure), Late 19th to early 20th cent, National Museum of African Art
Pare or Zigua artist, Tanzania, Figure, Date unknown, Collection of Robert T. Wall Family
Outachi artist, Togo, Figurative pot, Early 20th century, Afrika Museum, Berg en Dal, The Netherlands
George Osodi, b. 1974, Nigeria, De money series, No. 1, 2009, National Museum of African Art
Owanto, b. 1953, France, Où Allons-Nous? (Where are we going?), 2009, Collection of the artist
Sammy Baloji, b. 1978, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Portrait # 2: Femme Urua sur fond d'aquarelle de Dardenne, 2011
Charles Okereke, b. 1966, Nigeria, Once a Blue World, from the Canal People series, 2009, Collection of the artist


Earth Matters Installation Photo 1
Earth Matters Installation Photo 2
Earth Matters Installation Photo 3
Earth Matters Installation Photo 4
Earth Matters Installation Photo 5
Earth Matters Installation Photo 6
Earth Matters Installation Photo 7
Earth Matters Installation Photo 8
Earth Matters Installation Photo 9

Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa is organized by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. Major sponsorship is provided by the government of the Gabonese Republic. Additional support received from the Smithsonian Institution, Consortia for Valuing World Cultures and for Understanding the American Experience. The Los Angeles presentation is made possible through the generosity of the Barbara and Joseph Goldenberg Fund, the Shirley and Ralph Shapiro Director’s Discretionary Fund, and Manus, the support group of the Fowler Museum.  Public and family programs are made possible by the Jerome L. Joss Fund and the UCLA Dream Fund. Special thanks to our colleagues at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.

Hotel Sponsor: Hotel Angeleno
Media Sponsor:

Hotel AngelenoSmithsonian National Museum of African Art LA Arts Online