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"Working Together on a Beaded  Stool", 1991, Baham, Cameroon
"Working Together on a Beaded
Stool", 1991, Baham, Cameroon

An exhibit entitled "Africa Through the Eyes of Women Artists" was one of the many highlights of The Africa Semester at Missouri Southern State College in the fall of 1998. This exhibition of African art was on display in the Spiva Gallery on the Missouri Southern campus October 12 through November 6.

The exhibition focuses on traditional and modern women's contemporary art expressions and establishes a link between African and women artists of the diaspora in Jamaica and the United States.

"Pama Sinatoa and Son" Betty LaDuke, 1989 photograph
"Pama Sinatoa and Son"
Betty LaDuke, 1989 photograph

The artists selected are from Kenya, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Mali, and Cameroon. Their media vary from monumental sculptural forms to acrylic and mud cloth painting, batiks, utilitarian and ritual pottery and beaded wood sculptures. Also included are color photographs showing the artists in their working environments with written commentary derived from the book Africa Through the Eyes of Women Artists.

The exhibition and book are based on travel and research in Africa from 1986 to 1991 conducted by Betty LaDuke, a painter who teaches at Southern Oregon State College. Her research is the latest in a series of travel and research projects that have resulted in important publications and exhibitions on women artists from Latin America, India, Borneo, Indonesia, and Africa.

"Acada by Princess Elizabeth  Olowu", Betty LaDuke,  1986 photograph
"Acada by Princess Elizabeth
Olowu", Betty LaDuke,
1986 photograph

Betty LaDuke brings an artist's sensibility to her work through her use of drawings and photographs in the documentation and reporting process. LaDuke's world-wide study of womens' art is also reflected in her personal work as a painter and printmaker who consistently explores multi-cultural themes.

She explains the exhibition in these words: "For most Westerners, African art forms have remained in a frozen time warp limited to the infamous masks which inspired the development of cubism in early twentieth century Europe. African art, however, has continued to evolve in response to social needs.

"Logo Oudjengo and Her  Pottery", Betty LaDuke,  1992 photograph
"Logo Oudjengo and Her
Pottery", Betty LaDuke,
1992 photograph
"The artistic expression of the women interviewed and featured in "Africa Through the Eyes of Women Artists" contains a variety of images and themes that reveal multifaceted roles within contemporary African society. The relevancy of each artist's contribution in the media of fiber or ceramics or as modern painters, sculptors and printmakers, extends beyond national boundaries. Their art is composed of intimate and universal themes that touch upon all our lives and expand our vision of humanity."

Touring management for this exhibit is provided by Exhibit Touring Services (ETS), a program in the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences at Eastern Washington University. Partial funding for ETS is provided by the Washington State Arts Commission.

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