TOPEKA PUBLIC LIBRARY -- Africa Everyday, on display at the Alice C. Sabatini Gallery January 15th through February 19th, showcases a rich collection of art representing eight tribes: Maasai from Kenya, Asante from Ghana, Baule and Dan from Ivory Coast, Loma from Liberia, Mende from Sierra Leone and Dogon and Bamana from Mali. (See map)
View the exhibit, mingle and socialize during the First Friday Reception February 5th from 5:30-8:30 pm. The items on display were used by generations of tribespeople. Art and artifacts used for special ceremonies and for everyday are presented.
On February 13th, some of these individuals will lead a discussion about how spending time in Africa changed their lives. African Experiences begins at 2:00pm in the Sabatini Gallery.
The exhibit features elder’s regalia worn by former Topeka Zoo Director Gary Clarke, when he was initiated as an honorary elder by the Maasai. Clarke, of Topeka, has taken more than 140 safaris to Africa.
In the Ivory Coast, a tribemember will wear a firewatcher mask – one of which will be on display – to alert the village of fire hazards, much like the role of a fire marshal or forest service officer in America. That mask is constructed out of what looks like an old flour sack with a red mask and cowrie shells for embellishment.
“It’s fun to marvel at the differences and similarities between our society and societies thousands of miles away,” according to Sabatini Gallery director Sherry Best.
Many of the textiles and beadwork are impeccably crafted and colorful. Some, like a wedding necklace made by mothers in the Maasai tribe to give to their bride-to-be daughters, are delicate and intricate, while others, like an ax used in tribal construction are crude.
The Sabatini Gallery, open during regular library hours, is the oldest public art collection in Topeka. The gallery has been developing an African-themed collection since 1957.