“Pattern, Costume and Ornament” in Contemporary African and African-American Art at the Birmingham Museum of Art

“Pattern, Costume and Ornament” opened at the Birmingham Museum of Art on June 6 in the Bohourfoush Gallery. The works gathered in the exhibition were created by African and African-American artists and drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection and from local private collections.

Ron Platt, The Hugh Kaul Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, organized the exhibition. “These works are united by a visual presentation that emphasizes eye-catching arrangements, attention to detail and embellishment, and often both,” says Platt.

Functional objects, including a quilt and a Haitian vodou flag, mingle with contemporary painting, sculpture and photography. Each work invites the viewer to consider the diverse cultural influences on personal identity, reaching out to ancestry, tradition, and community for iconography and understanding.

Aside from the complex meanings they evoke, these works also can be valued simply for the visual pleasure they impart. Eye-catching arrangements, attention to details, and interesting use of common materials draw the viewer into the pieces.


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