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.]" 
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.
Renee Cox continues to question society and the roles it gives to blacks and women with her elaborate scenarios and imaginative visuals that offend some and exhilarate others.
Sylvia Williams directed installation of five inaugural exhibitions and more than 20 other exhibitions of traditional and modern art, including sculpture, photography, textiles and utilitarian objects. Under her direction, the museum acquired 845 works of art.*
I found this video about the Black Madonna and how to read the image as an icon. This is very helpful in my studies. There is definitely more to be discussed about the icon and one day I will have the opportunity to carry on the conversation and research of the iconic image.