Ghosts of the Sahara

I chose the theme “Ghosts of the Sahara” for my third art gallery, mostly because everything in my gallery that I chose was extremely haunting. It is almost as though every single piece that I have chosen, reminds me of death, and fills me with a sense of dread. So many pieces of African art are so incredibly different than art from the rest of the world. It seems as though African art is tied more closely to their daily life than artistic mediums from elsewhere around the world, such as Europe for example. To me, this makes the African medium much more personal, and I know that each work meant something in the life of the creator. Because of this, I feel I am left with a sense of abandonment and I can almost feel the life of the people behind the artworks simply by gazing at their organic appearances. I think the organic appearance of the works makes all the difference too. With the Makonde Mask, I immediately am greeted with a sense of slight familiarity because I notice that he looks exactly like a real man, except he also appears a shell of a man, which is why I included that mask in this gallery. The Mwana Pwo Mask is also in a way quite realistic, however, it struck me for a different reason. It seems as though the mask is of a woman asleep. It creates a sense of unease in me, and yet at the same time appears beautiful as though it were a funerary occasion. Because of this, I incorporated it into this gallery. All of the art works in this gallery, however, have a haunting appeal to them, they are organic and alive, yet represent death in a very real way to me. Because of this undead-like quality, I named this gallery “Ghosts of the Sahara”.

This mask is my favorite all time piece from my selection of artworks. I think it embodies the sense of a “ghost”, as it represents the true look and feel of a human being who had at one time lived in Africa. In fact it seems as though the mask is an actual face represented in my gallery. It has the strange look of someone who had just recently died. I like the fact that the artist used real human hair, and I think that adds to the look of being a dead African person. It evokes a sense of dread as well, with the glazed over, still look that it has, it is eerily creepy. I also am very intrigued by the fact that the skin pigmentation is so incredibly and unarguably rich in detail and thickness. I also like how this mask differs from so many other African masks that I have seen in the past. I think this is great that the mask doesn't look surreal, it doesn't have the appearance of an animal, no, in fact it looks very much like an actual person of that time, making it all the more ghoulish and creepy. Very realistic and awe-inspiring. As I had said before, I think it adds to the theme “Ghosts” because it is so incredibly realistic while at the same time having the appearance of death with real human hair. I feel like the meaning of this mask is the incorporation and acceptance of the modern culture at the time, considering that he looks like a mid-late 19th century man.
This mask is my second favorite piece out of the entire gallery. I think that it embodies a very crystal clear feminine ideal of Africa. I placed it into my gallery entitled “Ghosts”, because to me it represents someone who has died and is waiting to be awoken from a deathly slumber. I like the choice of coloration on the outside of the mask and I also like the way that it rests back on its head. I think the part that makes it seem so femenine is the slenderness of the face combined with the long hair and ear jewelry worn on the mask. This is the first mask that I have seen that depicts a female form, so it is nice to have that be shown as well. The figure, to me, seems ready to be awoken at any moment, giving me a sense of unease upon looking at the mask. It seems as though if the mask were to come alive that the outcome would be frightening. At the same time, however, there is a distinct beauty to the feminine aspect of the mask, creating a sense of curiosity as to what the intention of the artist was in creating it. It is quite haunting, however, and fits perfectly in my “Ghosts of Sahara” gallery.
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