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African Mask & Harlem Renaissance Art: Loïs Mailou Jones

Last month I found and shared  information about artist Lois Maillou Jones. I'm curious about African masks so I continue to explore the subject. I really enjoyed how she used these sculptures in her compositions. The above image is Les Fetiches, which displays multiple mask resting one over the other.

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“Madonna” by Elizabeth Catlett

From an early age I've always been fascinated by the Madonna and child imagery. "Madonna, in Christian art, depiction of the Virgin Mary; the term is usually restricted to those representations that are devotional rather than narrative and that show her in a nonhistorical context and emphasize later doctrinal or sentimental significance. The Madonna is accompanied most often by the infant Christ, [but she can be depicted alone.]" [1]

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Mask for Sande Society

The sowei mask evokes an ideal. The deep, shiny black surface recalls the smooth skin of young initiates and the deep pools of water where Sande’s guardian spirit resides. The downcast eyes, scarification marks, demure mouth, and styled hair communicate dignity and composure. Neck rings and a high forehead add to the mask’s beauty.

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Introduction to Sande Masks

The Sande Society is a fellowship of women found in West African cultures, which aims at preparing girls for adulthood. [2]

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Renee Stout – Artist

Starting with simple, house-shaped boxes into which she put feathers, beadwork she herself created, tiny bones, buttons, and memorabilia of family members, Stout progressed to creating "divining tables" and room-size installations. At the same time, she began developing an ongoing fictional narrative- the story of the stay-at-home Dorothy and the African explorer Colonel Frank- which she recorded in notebooks and which became another thread tying her work firmly to American and African traditions.[3]