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The Mask is the Medium

Giving future educators at TC a perspective on how art has evolved over the centuries, "Tribal Art from Africa," features rare wooden masks, weapons, tools and even textile fabrics from Central and West Africa
The wood-and-paint mask pictured here, which was featured in Tribal Art from Africa, an exhibition curated by internationally known artist and TC faculty member Professor Maurizio Pellegrin and held in TC’s Macy Gallery in February 2009, was created by the Baule Tribe of Côte d’Ivoire. Masks are considered among the most important artifacts in African history and are used both for particular community functions and as a medium to join the supernatural life.
The exhibition, which includes objects from a private collection and the New York City based-Bangally African Expo, is unique in that it focuses exclusively on art pieces that were used by tribes in Central and West Africa.
"In the beginning of the last century, Africans started producing art for tourists. They stopped using these objects as part of the tribe. These objects are the real things. All of the tribal art belongs to a period free from European influence," says Pellegrin, who has had more than 150 solo exhibitions around the world.

Tribal Art
was sponsored in part through gifts from the Myers Foundations, which were created by the late Colonel Eugene E. Myers, who was a student at the College in the late 1930s. Colonel Myers worked closely with then Chair of Art Education Edwin Ziegfeld on his seminal text Art Today. Teachers College—specifically the Gottesman Libraries and the Art and Art Education Program, which includes the Macy Gallery—is one of four institutions nationwide that receives generous funding each year through the Myers Foundations to support the arts in higher education.
Pellegrin said that each year, he curates three exhibitions at Macy Gallery, one of which focuses on the historical aspects of art. The goal, he said, is to give future educators at TC a perspective on how art has evolved over the centuries. African art has been profoundly influential on Western artists, he said, and can be traced from the paintings of Gauguin and Matisse through Picasso and the Abstract Expressionists.
For more information on the Tribal Art exhibition, please visit and for more information about Myers Foundations projects at TC, visit

Published Monday, Jun. 22, 2009