Traces: Reconstructing the History of a Chokwe Mask

October 22, 2016 - January 22, 2017

The exhibition Traces focuses on one artwork from UMMA’s African holdings: a Chokwe mask that was collected in 1905 near the Angolan city of Dundo by the German explorer Leo Frobenius. Its presence at UMMA today—almost 7,500 miles away from the context in which it was originally created, used, and valued—is the result of a long and tumultuous journey, spanning a hundred years, three continents, and numerous people whose lives are forever connected to the artifact that passed through their hands.
 
Traces tells the stories of some of these individuals as it reconstructs the “biography” of the mask. Drawing on the Museum’s African art collection and complemented with national loans, the exhibition is informed by research that exposes the mask’s many layers and restores some of its historical complexity. Visitors will be able to look closely, and in great detail, at this intriguing artwork and its fascinating story. 

Lead support for Traces: Reconstructing the History of a Chokwe Mask is provided by the James and Vivian Curtis Endowment. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Center for the Education of Women's Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund, the African Studies Center, and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies.
 

Images

Artist unrecorded, Chokwe peoples, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Pwo (woman) mask, ca. 1890, wood, tukula powder, clay, string, metal, fur, snakeskin, cloth, chicken foot, tax token, button. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Candis and Helmut Stern, 2005/1.201

Artist unrecorded, Chokwe peoples, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Caryatid stool, 2nd half of 19th century, wood, glass beads, brass tacks. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Helmut and Candis Stern, 2005/1.204 

Artist unrecorded, Chokwe or related peoples, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Hamba (ancestor) figure, ca. 1920, wood, string. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Helmut and Candis Stern, 2005/1.206

Artist unrecorded, Chokwe peoples, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Female figure, date unrecorded, wood. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen in memory of Nancy Turner, 2015/2.177

Artist unrecorded, Chokwe peoples, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Pwo (woman) mask, date unrecorded, wood, tukula powder. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Robert M. and Lillian Montalto Bohlen in memory of Nancy Turner, 2015/2.178 

Timeline

Exhibition Timeline

SatOct 22
Exhibition Opens
Sun
Oct 30
Traces: Reconstructing the History of a Chokwe Mask
2:00pm3:00pm
Gallery Talks and Tours
Sun
Nov 27
Traces: Reconstructing the History of a Chokwe Mask
2:00pm3:00pm
Gallery Talks and Tours
Wed
Dec 7
Curator Lecture: Traces and Fragments: the Life of a Chokwe Mask
5:30pm7:00pm
Artists and Curators / Exhibitions Related
Sat
Jan 14
Family Art Studio: Making African Masks
11:00am1:00pm
Artmaking / Exhibitions Related / Family
Sat
Jan 14
Family Art Studio: Making African Masks
2:00pm4:00pm
Artmaking / Exhibitions Related / Family
Sun
Jan 22
Traces: Reconstructing the History of a Chokwe Mask
2:00pm3:00pm
Gallery Talks and Tours
SunJan 22
Exhibition Closes