Africa in the Picture V

From the collection of Chris Parsley, a hand painted Ghanaian barber shop sign.  Check out the website of Philadelphia’s Indigo Arts Gallery for their extensive collection, Bon Coiffeur: Barber Signs from West Africa, for signage from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Togo … One of the images from Chris Ofili’s Afro Muses 1995-2005, from the 2005 exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem.  It was wonderful to walk into the main gallery and be enveloped by nearly 200 of these watercolors.

I recently stumbled upon this illustration by Philly-based graphic designer and illustrator, Andrea Pippins on her fantastic blog, Fly and thought concurrently of Ofili’s muses and a snapshot I took of Trini designer Charlene Sheppard-Duncan at a festival last year.

Darkroom, the fab-u-lous new concept store in London is celebrating its first summer with Into Africa, a season of African-influenced modernist accessories and homewares.  Designer Michelle Lowe-Holder’s handmade pleated cuff hit the shop this week … Sudanese supermodel, Alek Wek appears in Global Gathering, an incredible tableau of pattern-mixing and sculpted hair shot by Andrew Yee in homage to African style for the June issue of the Financial Times‘ magazine How to Spend It.

With a wonderful mélange of color and chevron printing, awesome New York-based menswear designer Miguel Antoinne, created this suit for his Spring/Summer 2010 collection … Lyrical writer Chris Abani (GraceLand, Song for Night, Virgin of Flames) has returned to poetry with his recently published, Sanctificum, a book-length sequence of linked poems.

Somewhere a man speaks
in the dark, voice lost to rain.
I know this hunger, this need
to make patterns, to build meaning
from detritus…

From the poem, Om, verse 5

I’ve been long drawn to antique chevron beads, their rich layers far superior to those produced today.  There are two bead shops in which I can lose track of time, perusing all the treasures and speaking with the knowledgeable staffs: New York’s Beads of Paradise and S & A Beads in Takoma Park, MD.  African trade beads are an S & A specialty and this   a unique strand of antique, 6-layer chevrons is embellished with lion’s teeth and a sea-weathered conch.  I love the whimsical touch of red on a single bead of the rare turquoise strand at Beads of Paradise.

Working the runway in Kosibah, the UK-based label of Nigerian designer Yemi Osunkoya, Zambian model Lukundo Nalungwe won The Face of Africa competition …  Though the Akron Art Museum  exhibition Pattern ID, has recently closed, the hardcover catalogue features each work in the exhibition (from artists including iona rozeal brown, Grace Ndiritu, Lalla Essaydi, Mark Bradford, Samuel Fosso and Yinka Shonibare MBE) as well as informative essays.

The artists use pattern and dress to take up the 21st century challenge of locating one’s place in society against the backdrop of globalization.  Many of the artists in the exhibition have migrated from one culture to another, be it national, ethnic, racial, socioeconomic, political or religious. Rather than trade one identity for another, the artists in Pattern ID reveal ways in which identity can be cumulative.

-Ellen Rudolph, Curator of Exhibitions

The lovely and talented designer Lola Faturoti has an ensemble included in the prestigious collection of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Born in London, raised partly in Ondo, Nigeria, she completed her studies in London before crossing the pond to an exciting late eighties New York, a city she’s called home — barring a four-year detour in Milan at the beginning of the millennium — ever since.  This marvelous dress is from her Spring collection.


4 Responses

  1. Love this!!! Beautiful! Thank you Sharon for sharing this.

    • Thank YOU, Anu, the queen of natural hair!

  2. Another fine post Sharon… You are on fire grrrl!

  3. OOOOOOoooooooo so fab!

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