Community

kere4Laongo CSPS Clinic, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré ArchitecturePhiladelphia Museum of Art

The Architecture of Francis Kéré, Building for Community, Philadelphia Museum of Art

May 14 – September 25, 2016, Collab GalleryPhiladelphia Museum of Art

Francis Kéré is an internationally renowned, Berlin ­based architect who integrates traditional knowledge and craft skills into innovative and sustainable buildings worldwide. As the first son of the head of Gando, his home village in Burkina Faso, he was the only child allowed to attend school in a large city; he later studied architecture in Europe. While still a student, he began to reinvest his knowledge back into his community, building schools that would change its future trajectory.

In Gando, Kéré combined traditional Burkinabé building techniques with modern engineering methods, maximizing local materials and community participation to reduce costs and ecological impact—a practice common to many of the projects highlighted in this exhibition. His work in Gando has become a catalyst for further development: the men and women he trained in construction techniques can now use their skills to earn incomes for their families. Students in his schools have gone on to pursue higher education and aspire to circumstances that were considered impossible before.   kere7Primary school in Gando, Burkina Faso, completed 2001, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph by Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Harnessing the success of the Gando initiative, Kéré founded his Berlin office in 2005 and has since garnered acclaim for his work elsewhere in Western Africa and, more recently, in Europe and North America. He is the recipient of the 2014 Schelling Architecture Foundation Award, the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, and the BSI Swiss Architectural Award, among others.

kere3Gando School Library, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré Architecture

This school consists of nine modules that house a series of classrooms and administrative offices. The laterite stone walls, undulating off-white ceiling, and unique wind-towers exponentially reduce the interior temperature.

Secondary School, 2007 / Dano

Consisting of three classrooms, a computer room, and office space, this school is built mostly of widely available laterite stone and features a permeable ceiling, a corrugated sheet roof, and shaded windows that ensure natural ventilation. The laterite refining process and the ventilation system illustrate Kéré’s innovative techniques utilizing local handicraft.

Francis Kéré, Building for CommunityGando School Extension, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph by Erik-Jan Ouwerkerk

Primary School , 2001 / Gando

To ensure a natural and sustainable cooling system in an extremely hot region, the roof over the classrooms is elevated from the interior construction; underneath, a perforated clay ceiling allows for maximum ventilation.

Canopy Shelter and Shade

The tree is a primal form of shelter. Four fundamental elements of architecture can be extracted from the various parts of the tree: canopy, structure, gathering place, and shadow. The canopy, as a general concept of various roof and ceiling enclosures, is an architectural cornerstone in Kéré’s work. Constructions in hot, arid places like Burkina Faso depend on innovative shade-making devices that allow ventilation and cooling without the need for electricity, as well as overhangs that provide protection from torrential rains. This video’s skyward perspective presents the importance of canopies in Burkina Faso, from village trees to traditional ceilings made of clay and thatch, to Kéré’s roof constructions at different stages of completion.

kere6Gando School Library, Designed by Francis Kéré, Burkinabe, active Berlin, Photograph © Kéré Architecture

Building with Community

Reflecting the accessibility of Kéré’s building process, this video shows one of his most recent projects: the Lycée Schorge school in Koudougou, Burkina Faso. Unlike most modern construction sites in the West, which are strictly off-limits to the public, the Schorge site is left open for the surrounding villagers to observe. This process demystifies the act of building, allowing the public to slowly accept and sometimes even contribute to the new construction. Every stage of the project, including mounting the ceiling trusses and facade elements, fabricating the classroom furniture, and painting the interiors and window shutters, is performed without the use of heavy machinery.

The chairs in this space were made by a local fabricator in Philadelphia using the same design that Kéré created for schools in Burkina Faso. The Francis Kéré Foundation and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are pleased to offer these fifteen chairs for sale at the close of the exhibition to support Kéré’s further work in Gando. If you would like to reserve one or more chairs, please visit the Museum Store in this building for further details.

Diébédo Francis Kéré: How to build with clay… and community

Sharing Knowledge

Whether in a classroom with chalkboards and desks, or under a great baobab tree with logs and stones, the survival and prosperity of each new generation relies heavily on the transmission of knowledge. Gathering is not only a function of social occasions, it is also how ideas are discussed and spread. Shadow symbolizes this place of coming together. Visitors are invited to sit within this gathering space.

Wood

While natural hardwood forests are rare in Burkina Faso, the fast-growing eucalyptus tree provides a useful source of timber. This species is considered a nuisance in the region because it provides little shade and leaches moisture from the soil, exacerbating the problems of desertification. Despite its limited structural strength, it can still be made into screens, interior finishes, furniture, and even secondary facade systems that shade and protect buildings from wind and rain. Through the process of testing and prototyping, Kéré’s firm is also exploring new solutions for reinforcing the material for structural applications.

Clay

Burkinabés have long built with clay, extracting it from the earth, processing it by hand, and using it in a variety of architectural and craft elements, from walls to hand-built pottery. For the Gando School Library, Kéré pioneered a new use for local clay, casting sections of large pots into the ceiling to provide natural ventilation and lighting. Made by local women, the pots were transported to the building site on foot, involving the community’s expertise and participation. More recently, Kéré engineered an innovative way to cast the clay into reusable molds, creating wall systems that can be replicated for use in modular buildings.

Bricks

Bricks play a crucial role in Kéré’s architectural practice. Whether cast from clay or cut from locally extracted laterite stone, the simple form of the brick can be used to create sophisticated architectural forms and building systems. With or without mortar, bricks can be used in walls, ceilings, and floors. Different systems of stacking and bonding can produce a permeable boundary, allowing air and light to pass through. Thick brick walls also create a thermal mass, which, together with adequate ventilation and shading, helps to maintain a comfortably cool interior space.

School Furniture

To offset the costs of transporting building materials to remote sites with extremely limited means, Kéré and his team came up with ingenious ways to use every scrap of material left over from construction. Using steel rebar and plywood, the team built customized chairs and desks for school students and staff. Every bend and weld was carefully calculated to streamline production time and costs. The furniture was produced on-site with simple hand tools and jigs. A particularly striking detail is the rubber “shoe” made by hand from recycled automobile tires.

Architecture of Community

Despite the many differences between the city of Philadelphia and the village of Gando in Burkina Faso, where Francis Kéré was born, the installation in this atrium emphasizes the human-scale domestic architecture of both places and the sense of community such a design produces. In the plan of this space, Kéré overlaid the geometric grid of William Penn’s Philadelphia — represented by the regular placement of the frames that support the hanging parachute cord enclosures — with the irregular disposition of the enclosures themselves, mimicking the organic development of a Burkinabé village. The installation also features sounds collected from both Burkina Faso and Philadelphia, reinforcing the concept of community and shared space. The hanging parachute cord material may appear first as an obstacle, but on entering and interacting with the installation, the visitor will perceive that the material is a unifying, enclosing element that creates common spaces that must be negotiated and shared.

It Takes a Village

Conceived by Kéré Architecture and designed in collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Curatorial, Exhibition Design, and Editorial and Graphic Design teams, this exhibition has fostered an exchange of ideas, traditions, and experiences between Africa, Europe, and the United States. Thanks to the eager participation of many members of the Museum staff and volunteers, the Young Friends Executive Board and event committee, students from the University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Program in Architecture, and the general public to help fabricate components, this installation truly represents the coming together of a community. In addition, the Philadelphia Museum of Art would like to acknowledge Richard Wesley, for facilitating the UPenn collaboration; Larry Spitz, Carol Klein, and Sasha Barrett, who generously offered their services in creating the red clay pots to suggest the Gando Library ceiling; and David Cann and James Bassett-Cann, for their help in the realization of the atrium installation.

Photography is OK, but please no flash.

Social Media: #CreativeAfrica 

Follow us and join the conversation: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/YouTube@philamuseum

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

Thank you to The Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post.

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Canopy, The Architecture of Francis Kere #donartnews #art #philadelphia #pma #architectureporn

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Vlisco

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global StagePrinted Textile, 2005. Made by Vlisco, Helmond, Netherlands, founded 1846. Cotton plain weave, wax‑resist print, 12 feet × 47 1/2 inches (365.8 × 120.7 cm). Private Collection, ©Vlisco

Creative Africa, Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Through January 22, 2017

Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building

The Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates West and Central African fashion and culture in an exhibition exploring the classic and contemporary looks of Vlisco, the oldest international textile brand that specializes in Dutch wax fabrics. From the earliest designs and most recognizable patterns, continuing through a selection of iconic styles that have been re-interpreted in a contemporary way, the exhibition will highlight a selection of the thousands of patterns Vlisco has produced for the African and diaspora markets.

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global StagePrinted Textile, 2005. Made by Vlisco, Helmond, Netherlands, founded 1846. Cotton plain weave, wax‑resist print, 12 feet × 47 1/2 inches (365.8 × 120.7 cm). Private Collection, ©Vlisco

Dilys Blum, The Museum’s Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles and organizer of this exhibition, said: “The wax-printed fabrics long associated with Central and West Africa have a surprising history that is truly global.  Many of the patterns shown in this display tell stories and convey images that reflect Africa’s past and reimagine its future. For this special presentation in Philadelphia, we are celebrating the transnational character of Vlisco by showing the company’s classic designs, these classics re-imagined, and new contemporary patterns, sharing how fashion designers in West Africa and other parts of the world use Vlisco wax fabrics today.”

When cloth leaves the factory it is generally identified only by a stock number. The women who trade in the open-air markets in African cities, and their customers, assign the patterns names inspired by current events, politics, religion, and material culture. The exhibition explores the ways in which such patterns acquire social meaning, status, and value and become culturally assimilated into African society, and examine how designs can have many interpretations depending on where they are used.

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global StagePrinted Textile, Late 20th century. Made by Vlisco, Helmond, Netherlands, founded 1846. Cotton plain weave, wax‑resist print, 36 × 47 1/2 inches (91.4 × 120.7 cm). Private Collection, © Vlisco

Among the classic patterns represented are the “Happy Family” egg motif, featuring an image of a hen surrounded by her chicks and chicks-to-be referencing the importance of family, and the “Fallen Tree” pattern that acts as a visual substitute for a proverb that teaches unity and strength in Ghana. The “Alphabet” design symbolizes the value that Africans place on education, and “Swallows”, a symbol of good luck, refers to the transience of riches. The classic “Swallows” pattern was worn by flight attendants for Air Afrique in the 1970s. The display will show how this particular pattern has been reinterpreted to include airplane imagery, a symbol of globalization.

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage“La Famille” Printed Textile, 1952. Made by Vlisco, Helmond, Netherlands, founded 1846. Cotton plain weave, wax‑resist print, 18 feet × 47 1/4 inches (548.6 × 120 cm). Private Collection, © Vlisco

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage“Angelina” Printed Textile, 1962. Made by Vlisco, Helmond, Netherlands, founded 1846. Cotton plain weave, wax‑resist print, 70 × 48 1/4 inches (177.8 × 122.6 cm). Private Collection, © Vlisco

The “Eye” pattern, one of the most enduring European designs for the African market, appears in the exhibition in multiple variations and colors.  The original design of 1904 by the Haarlem Cotton Company was inspired by the Egyptian god Horus, a symbol of protection, royal power, and good health.  Some of the eye patterns were intended to silently communicate and identify with a woman’s family and marital relationships.  In Nigeria, the original Haarlem pattern is known as “Eyes”. In Côte d’Ivoire, it is called “Bull’s Eye” and is worn by a woman to show a man that she desires him.  Also in Côte d’Ivoire, the classic “Jumping Horse” pattern expresses rivalry between co-wives.  In Nigeria, Igbo women favor this design for family to express unity at their annual women’s meeting.

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global StageDazzling Graphics Collection, 2011, Made by Vlisco, Helmond, Netherlands, Photograph courtesy of Vlisco

The exhibition will touch upon the rise of the most successful market women in Togo, called the Nana Benz, who traded in wax prints beginning in the 1930s. The Nana Benz were essential to the success or failure of the designs.  Wholesalers to other market traders, the women provided Vlisco agents with information on customer preferences. In return, the women were often given exclusive access to certain designs.  A playful design featuring the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star logo pays homage to these traders, as this was their car of choice and became a symbol of their success.  In another design, the Vlisco logo on the radiator grill replaces the car’s original trademark. 

Displayed on mannequins in the center of the gallery is an installation of contemporary designs using the wax fabrics as created by African, diaspora and other international designers. 

One of Nigeria’s foremost fashion designers, Lanre da Silva Ajayi, who is known for her ultra-feminine looks and elegant use of prints, has collaborated with Vlisco on numerous projects including a gala dress on view in the exhibition.  The designer’s ensemble is made in a limited-edition shimmering gold print embellished with the designer’s signature beads and sequins.

Owner and creative director Araba Stephens Akompi of the Ghanaian fashion house Stylista has reconfigured patterns showing a Spanish fan to create a flamenco-style dress with a distinctively African twist. Stylista sees this gala dress as an evolution of the traditional Ghanaian blouse with a matching skirt.

The exhibition features ensembles by Vlisco’s senior fashion designer from 2008 to 2016, Inge van Lierop, who was responsible for translating each seasonal concept into stylish ensembles used for marketing. A strapless, two-piece wedding dress made from two color ways of the same design is embellished with beads, as is the veil, which was embroidered in India. Deconstructed and made into a late 1960s-style mini dress that pays homage to the decade when the design first achieved popularity, the classic “Angelina” pattern associated with the dashiki a loose tunic worn by men and women is updated and re-colored in luminous pastels for a more contemporary look.

The fashions of Manish Arora, one of today’s most inspiring designers, fuse his Indian roots, global style, and contemporary popular culture.  This year, Arora has collaborated with Vlisco for his ready-to-wear collection shown recently in Paris and inspired by the American West.  For his ensemble on display, he has re-interpreted wax prints into knit fabrics. 

Ikiré Jones of Philadelphia, led by Nigerian-American menswear designer, Walé Oyéjidé, shows how the designs can be creatively cut and mixed together for unique looks.  His  hand-tailored trousers, and a jacket made of Vlisco fabric, are accessorized with a storytelling scarf.

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage is one of five exhibitions in the Perelman Building this season, accompanied by related programs that feature a broad spectrum of the arts from across the African continent. They feature historical works of art as well as contemporary fashion, photography, design, and architecture. Each calls attention to the continuities and differences between African art forms over the centuries.

The related exhibitions are:

Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art, a major exhibition drawn from the collection of the Penn Museum (May 14 through December 4, 2016).

Threads of Tradition, focusing on the traditional patterns in West and Central African textiles and the techniques used to create them, including strip weaving, resist dyeing, piecing, appliqué, and embroidery (Through January 2017).

The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community, featuring a site-specific, immersive environment designed by this world-renowned Burkina-Faso-born architect (May 14–September 25, 2016).

Three Photographers/Six Cities presents an in-depth look at three photographers who create powerful pictures of African cities: Cairo, Egypt; Nairobi, Kenya; Lagos, Nigeria; Johannesburg, South Africa; Bamako, and Tombouctou (Timbuktu), Mali. From Akinbode Akinbiyi’s observation of urban centers and Seydou Camara’s examination of Islamic manuscripts to Ananias Léki Dago’s pictures of offbeat locales, the images offer unique perspectives on contemporary African experience (Through September 25, 2016).

Curator: Dilys Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles

Location: Joan Spain Gallery

About Vlisco

Vlisco, founded in 1846, began exporting factory printed cloth to West Africa around 1876. Over the years Vlisco absorbed several Dutch textile manufacturers that also produced wax prints for the market prior to World War I. Today it is the last surviving European wax-resist textile manufacturer. The Vlisco brand is manufactured in Helmond, Netherlands and is the premier brand of the Vlisco group which includes three other brands, GTP and Woodin made in Ghana and Uniwax produced in Cote d’Ivoire. Each brand caters to a distinct segment of the market.

Social Media: #CreativeAfrica 

Follow us and join the conversation: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Tumblr/YouTube @philamuseum

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. We are a landmark building. A world-renowned collection. A place that welcomes everyone. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

Thank you to The Philadelphia Museum of Art for the content of this post.

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Like

Kyle Confehr, GUSH Gallery

Kyle Confehr,  Just Because, Like, Gush Gallery, Jinxed West Philly

Gush Gallery co-founders Stephanie Slate and Sarah Thielke are pleased to announce the opening of artist Kyle Confehr’s Just Because, Like exhibition on July 2, 2016 at Jinxed (4521 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143) from 5:00 – 8:00pm.

Kyle Confehr’s ink on neon paper drawings focus on the absurdity of modern language, social media, irony, consumerism, and the passivity of modern culture. Reminiscent of 1980s New York City street graffiti culture and the political and pop art of Keith Haring, Confehr’s new drawings in Just Because, Like encourages, and often demands, the complete attention and involvement of the viewer. Through small details and images hidden throughout the work, in an almost seek and find game fashion, and coupled with the clichéd modern phrases and text speak, Kyle Confehr presents a commentary on the social media-ness of the world we live in.

Free beer and snacks at the opening reception! The exhibition runs through the end of the month at Jinxed West Philly.

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Incouragement

 

PAFA ASE 2016, For the Incouragement of the Fine Arts

Video by John Thornton Films

“In 1805 Ben Franklin’s buddy Thomas Jefferson received a letter from an artist named Charles Wilson Peale. Peale wrote about trying to form an Academy for the “Encouragement” of the fine arts.” – John Thornton

“One of the most highly anticipated student group shows in the country, the ASE offers collectors a rare chance to view and purchase works by the art world’s emerging young talents, including winners of PAFA’s Spring Prize competition, prestigious Travel Awards, and other prizes awarded in various categories of excellence. This year’s ASE will feature approximately 1,000 works in various media by 41 graduating MFA students and 66 third- and fourth-year Certificate and BFA students.” – PAFA

“The 115th Annual Student Exhibition (ASE) features works by PAFA’s BFA students, third-year and fourth-year Certificate program students and Master of Fine Arts candidates, showcasing artistic styles that fuse traditional skill with contemporary vision. This long-standing tradition offers students the opportunity to curate, install, and sell their own works in PAFA’s galleries, and is one of the most celebrated student group shows in the country.

In addition to its role as an exhibition and sale, the ASE includes a competition for the coveted Certificate program’s Cresson, Schiedt, Von Hess, Ware, and Women’s Board Travel Scholarships. It also provides collectors and the general public with opportunities to view and purchase works by PAFA’s prize-winning students and rising stars in the art world.” – PAFA

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Cities

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesUntitled (Cairo, Egypt), 2002. Akinbode Akinbiyi, Nigerian (born England), born 1946. Gelatin silver print, approx: 20 1/16 × 24 inches (51 × 61 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Akinbode, Akinbiyi.

Creative Africa, Three Photographers/Six Cities

Through September 25, 2016

Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is presenting an exhibition dedicated to several important photographers, little-known in the United States, who make African cities their subjects. Three Photographers/Six Cities takes an in-depth look at the work of artists Akinbode Akinbiyi (Nigerian, born in England), Seydou Camara (Malian), and Ananias Léki Dago (Ivorian). Each has produced powerful series of images that portray African places in the midst of change or on the cusp of it. While their approaches vary, they are united by their concern for documentation and an intense layering of the past and present within their works.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesUntitled (Lagos, Nigeria), 2004. Akinbode Akinbiyi, Nigerian (born England), born 1946. Inkjet print, approx: 33 7/16 × 25 9/16 inches (85 × 65 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Akinbode, Akinbiyi.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesUntitled (Lagos, Nigeria), 2004. Akinbode Akinbiyi, Nigerian (born England), born 1946. Inkjet print, approx: 33 7/16 × 25 9/16 inches (85 × 65 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Akinbode, Akinbiyi.

Peter Barberie, the Museum’s Brodsky Curator of Photographs, said: “I brought the work of these three together because as a group they compel us to think about African cities in intriguing ways, juxtaposing one period of time against another, documenting daily life in the context of sprawling growth and often with an acute awareness of potential loss or threat. I also wanted to show their art in sufficient depth, so that audiences could come to know their work. Each photographer is highly accomplished, and deserves to be better known in the United States.” 

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesUntitled (Lagos, Nigeria), 2004. Akinbode Akinbiyi, Nigerian (born England), born 1946. Gelatin silver print, approx: 24 × 20 1/16 inches (61 × 51 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Akinbode, Akinbiyi.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesUntitled (Lagos, Nigeria), 2004. Akinbode Akinbiyi, Nigerian (born England), born 1946. Inkjet print, approx: 33 7/16 × 25 9/16 inches (85 × 65 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Akinbode, Akinbiyi.

Akinbode Akinbiyi is a self-taught photographer who has traveled extensively in Africa, especially in its largest and fast-growing cities, often taking months or years to produce a single series. In the exhibition, he is represented by his black-and-white photographs of Egypt and Nigeria. The seven works from his Masr portfolio capture scenes of Cairo in orchestrated masses of light and dark and through interlocking open and congested spaces: the pyramids appearing through metal fencing against sun-blanched sand; a crowded bus hurtling past buildings bearing huge commercial billboards; a crowded museum in which visitors back up against a glass case, all but ignoring the ancient stone figure it contains. On an opposite wall is a gridded arrangement of 18 square photographs from Akinbiyi’s All Roads series. These scenes of Lagos juxtapose open and tight spaces as well, punctuated sometimes by the visual clutter of urban streets and the clamor of random signage: a wall plastered with posters declaring war against marital problems in Lagos, a jumble of cars and heaps of trash, and such scenes of beauty as five boys playing in the sand as foamy water washes onto a beach.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesCBD, Johannesburg, from the series Shebeen Blues, 2007 (negative); 2015 (print). Ananias Léki Dago, Ivorian, born 1970. Gelatin silver print, approximate: 24 × 20 inches (61 × 50.8 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Ananias Léki Dago.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesOrlando East, Soweto, from the series Shebeen Blues, 2007 (negative); 2015 (print). Ananias Léki Dago, Ivorian, born 1970. Gelatin silver print, approximate: 24 × 20 inches (61 × 50.8 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Ananias Léki Dago.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesOrlando East, Soweto, from the series Shebeen Blues, 2007 (negative); 2015 (print). Ananias Léki Dago, Ivorian, born 1970. Gelatin silver print, approximate: 24 × 20 inches (61 × 50.8 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Ananias Léki Dago.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesAlexandra Township, from the series Shebeen Blues, 2008 (negative); 2015 (print). Ananias Léki Dago, Ivorian, born 1970. Gelatin silver print, approximate: 24 × 20 inches (61 × 50.8 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Ananias Léki Dago.

Ananias Léki Dago, also a street photographer working with black-and-white film, is represented by works he took in Mali, Kenya, and South Africa. Included are prints from his Bamako Crosses series that hone in on wheelbarrow handles, a cruciform shape that he transforms into an urban street motif, seen even in a chance reflection in a puddle. Works from his Mabati series, devoted to images of Nairobi, focus on the distinctive corrugated metal used in buildings all over that city. They convey a play of textures and patterns in which the human presence is often elliptical or seen partially, framed within windows or masses of light and dark. Also included are four works from a series inspired by shebeens, underground bars that were illegal during apartheid years, which became sites for activist gatherings, and formed the subject of a book by the artist. Called Shebeen Blues, the series evokes elements of life in the former segregated townships, such as Soweto, that now make up a part of Johannesburg.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesUntitled, 2009. Seydou Camara, Malian, born 1983. Inkjet print, Image: 13 5/8 × 18 1/8 inches (34.6 × 46 cm)

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesUntitled, 2013. Seydou Camara, Malian, born 1983. Inkjet print, Image: 13 5/16 × 20 inches (33.8 × 50.8 cm)

Seydou Camara, who turned his attention to photography after earning a law degree in 2007, is represented by eleven digital color inkjet prints from his Manuscripts of Tombouctou series. These works reflect his devotion to preserving the centuries-old, treasured writings that face potential destruction in a land riven by rebel groups. The most documentary in spirit of the three artists, Camara conveys the fragility of these volumes and the beauty of their cursive script in all their rich color and mottled tones. Rather than focusing on more conventional markers of urbanization, such as a densely built environment or a concentration of commercial activities, they evoke other characteristics that are essential to Tombouctou’s identity, namely the city’s age and its continuing role as a center of Islamic scholarship. His series records not only texts, but efforts to conserve and transcribe them, and mixes those pictures with views of mosques, whose mud walls provide slivers of shade for people seeking relief from the sun.

Curator: Peter Barberie, The Brodsky Curator of Photographs, Alfred Stieglitz Center 

Three Photographers/Six Cities is one of five Creative Africa exhibitions in the Perelman Building this season. The accompanying programs feature a broad spectrum of the arts from across the African continent. The exhibitions feature historical works of art as well as contemporary fashion, photography, design, and architecture. Each calls attention to the continuities and differences between African art forms over the centuries.

Creative Africa Three Photographers/Six CitiesUntitled (Lagos, Nigeria), 2004. Akinbode Akinbiyi, Nigerian (born England), born 1946. Gelatin silver print, approx: 24 × 20 1/16 inches (61 × 51 cm), Courtesy of the artist, © Akinbode, Akinbiyi

Related exhibitions are:

Look Again: Contemporary Perspectives on African Art, a major exhibition drawn from the collection of the Penn Museum (May 14–December 4)

Vlisco: African Fashion on a Global Stage, exploring the celebrated company’s most enduring designs, examines the process of creating a new textile and showcases a selection of contemporary fashions by African and European makers as well as Vlisco’s in-house design team (April 30, 2016–January 22, 2017)

The Architecture of Francis Kéré: Building for Community, featuring a site-specific, immersive environment designed by this world-renowned architect from Burkina Faso (May 14–September 25)

Threads of Tradition, focusing on the traditional patterns in West and Central African textiles and the techniques used to create them, including strip weaving, resist dyeing, piecing, appliqué, and embroidery (April 30, 2016–January 2017)

Related events range from school programs and artists’ residencies to Art After 5 live performances and the Museum’s summer-long Art Splash family festival, which runs from

July 1 through September 5

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The Philadelphia Museum of Art is Philadelphia’s art museum. A place that welcomes everyone. A world-renowned collection. A landmark building. We bring the arts to life, inspiring visitors—through scholarly study and creative play—to discover the spirit of imagination that lies in everyone. We connect people with the arts in rich and varied ways, making the experience of the Museum surprising, lively, and always memorable. We are committed to inviting visitors to see the world—and themselves—anew through the beauty and expressive power of the arts.

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