Two New Exhibitions open at Saint Mary's College Museum of Art (SMCMoA)

Moraga, CA– On Wednesday, February 16, Power & Purpose: Reflections from the African Art Collection and Stock: Andrew Mount open at Saint Mary's College Museum of Art (SMCMoA).

Power & Purpose: Reflections on the African Art Collection and Stock –Two New Exhibitions– open at Saint Mary's College Museum of Art (SMCMoA). Power & Purpose, on view through June 19, features African Art from the college's permanent collection. Guest curated by Kathy Littles, Ph. D., this exhibition highlights selected works that redirect narrative to the descendants impacted by the African Diaspora. On view through May 8, Stock presents an oeuvre of work by artist Andrew Mount. The exhibition invites visitors to pause and reflect upon empirical structures and wealth signified through visual language. The exhibitions are on view Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to all programs and events are free. A public reception will be held in the museum courtyard on Thursday, February 24, from 4 to 8 p.m. 

Power & Purpose: Reflections from the African Art Collections

Power & Purpose brings forth a visual engagement of history and cultural celebration. Featuring forty selected objects from the college's permanent collection, narratives of beauty, hierarchy, motherhood, masculinity, spirituality, sustainability, rites of passage, and diversity speak to Africa as a continent, embodying tradition and cultural practice. Guest curator Dr. Littles approaches Power & Purpose through the lens of healing and reclamation. 

"We are reminded that much of historical/traditional African Art was not made for western eyes, or, in many cases for anyone outside of the familial or cultural realm." shares Littles. "With this in mind, I want visitors to step back and allow the art to speak its history. Power & Purpose is an invitation to imagine a time when the objects' power was in a sense 'activated' and took effect. We are indebted to the artists and the traditions, and we appreciate African Art for its effortless beauty and substance." 

Traditionally minimized by colonial history and collection practices, Power & Purpose acknowledges the western impact on the historical practices of exhibiting African Art. While holding this truth, Littles opens a conversation to the ethical questions around the projected western gaze and provides a space for dialogue and response for ancestors of those impacted by the African Diaspora.  

"Power & Purpose reflects ongoing work. Through the span of this exhibition, new perspectives and voices will continue to be added. This is intentional; it reflects that narrative is a living process, and that invitation for dialogue needs to be open and ongoing," states Academic and Engagement Curator Britt Royer. Through the development phase, Royer worked closely with Saint Mary's College of California (SMC) alumnae Enobong Akan-Etuk and Briana Swain to create interpretive materials and didactics in the exhibition space. 

"Akan-Etuk and Swain's work is essential to the development," shares Royer, "their insights and voices add dimension to the space, visible through the Mapping Meaning project and the ancestral altar. Their work empowers a genuine and open dialogue with the objects."  

The Mapping Meaning project, located in the educational space of the exhibition, displays a map of Africa that places seventeen of the ethnic tribes represented by objects in the exhibition. Calling for participation, the map invites visitors to share artists and places of wonder from Africa on a notecard to be placed on a parallel wall. The map, in turn, will be updated throughout the run of the exhibition to reflect this developing placement of culture.  

Power & Purpose is on view through June 19, 2022. The exhibition was created with consultation with the College Committee of Inclusive Excellence (CCIE) and the assistance of alumnae Enobong Akan-Etuk and Briana Swain. A panel discussion featuring Akan-Etuk, Swain, and Tammy Appling-Cabading is scheduled for Saturday, March 19, 2022. More information can be found at http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/powerandpurpose

 

Stock: Andrew Mount 

Stock, featuring nine installation works by interdisciplinary artist Andrew Mount, invites visitors to respond and react to concepts of societal debt, wealth, and legality communicated through symbols. Mount approaches art practice through participatory and socially engaged themes.

Colorful playmats, bungee cords, and stamps coax the viewer to partake in themes of wealth and legality in the installation work Stocks. Mount ties themes of play and work physically through the stamps and bungees as the viewer engages with the objects, and metaphorically through the dichotomy of child's play to adult's work.

Centered in Mount's exploration of symbols is the concept of heraldry. Historically, heraldry communicated rank and pedigree through visual signifiers of shields and flags placed in a design. In the five banner installation series, Real Property, Mount assembles heraldry in the context of modern emblems, thus establishing continuity in how wealth and debt are cycled and connected through time. The forms of shields, flags, and emblems are assembled with logos of financial institutions, politicians, and imagery of American pop culture. Through this placement, new meanings and reflections emphasize how wealth and violence are populated through an unbreakable cycle. 

Mount also explores wealth in terms of leisure. "A lot of people in the Western world feel that [leisure] is a right they have. But, many more billions of people worldwide have no opportunity for such leisure. So, I am very interested in that idea and how that works in terms of how we understand what we think of as freedom, what we think of as our rights, and how those things have been delivered to us through a kind of materialism that we take for granted." states Mount in regards to his video installation Wealth

Stock is on view through May 8, 2022. An artist dialogue will be held on Thursday, February 17, at 4 p.m. More information can be found at http://www.stmarys-ca.edu/stock 

Artist Biography

Andrew Mount, an English artist and educator at Saint Mary's College of California, works in a range of media to reframe social and political elements through participatory art practice. Mount gained a BA (Hons) in Painting from the University of Reading (UK), an MFA in Combined Media from Hunter College, CUNY, and an EdD in Interdisciplinary Studies in Art and Art Education from Columbia University. Mount's work has been shown in the UK, Bulgaria, Germany, and the USA. Mount resides in the Bay Area where he has lived and worked since 1997.

 

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Media Contact:

Britt Royer

925-631-4493

www.stmarys-ca.edu/museum 

 

Image Credits: 

I) Guro, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Mask, n.d., wood. Gift of Scott and Nancy McCue (Kinnenen) Collection of Saint Mary’s College Museum of Art [2007.12.13]

II) Andrew Mount, (1969-) England, detail from Debstock (twoways), fluid acrylic, watercolor, acrylic, ink on paper, 2021-2022,  courtesy of the artist.