Esther dress by Patience Torlowei at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art

Esther dress by Patience Torlowei at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art

Published by Torlowei on 12th Jun 2019

The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art will be unveiling a new exhibition in June 2019 titled “I AM..., Contemporary Women Artists of Africa”, the first all-female exhibit in the museum’s 55-year history. The Esther dress by Patience Torlowei, a Nigerian artist, and the first and only piece of couture to join the museum’s permanent collection, will be on display as one of its focal pieces. This work of art which tells the story of issues affecting Africans across the continent, was gifted to the museum by the artist after being created as part of the National Museum of African Art’s 50th anniversary celebrations, centred around the theme “Earth Matters”.

The dress, made in acrylic paint on raw silk, comprises of several localised scenes not unknown in many parts of Africa and addresses issues such as illegal logging, piracy, environmental pollution, blood diamonds, etc.

"I Am… Contemporary Women Artists of Africa” will feature works by 28 of Africa’s leading modern and contemporary artists, all of whom are women. This exhibition highlights the vital contributions of women to numerous issues, including the environment, identity, politics, race, sexuality, social activism, faith and more. Taking its name from the 1970s feminist anthem, “I Am Woman,” this exhibition updates and broadens perspectives on women making art.

Each of the exhibition’s 30 works of art comes from the permanent collection of the National Museum of African Art and incorporates paintings, sculpture, ceramics, high fashion, fibre arts, video projection and installation pieces. The exhibition is intended to showcase the depth, technical sophistication and range of Africa’s artists.

The National Museum of African Art is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to the collection, conservation, study and exhibition of Africa’s art across time and media. The museum’s collection of over 12,000 artworks represents the diversity of the African continent and includes a variety of media— ranging from sculpture and painting, to photography, pottery, jewellery, textile, video and sound art. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. The museum is located at 950 Independence Ave. S.W., near the Smithsonian Metrorail station on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines, Washington DC, USA.

“I Am... Contemporary Women Artists of Africa exhibition” opens June 20, 2019 through to July 5, 2020. You are cordially invited to be part of this historic exhibition.

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