Lecture: Photographing the Bundu Helmet Masks of the Mende Peoples in Sierra Leone
@ The Art Institute of Chicago
111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603
Opening Saturday, December 10th, at 2PM
The famous helmet masks used in Sierra Leone and neighboring Liberia and Guinea have been documented by several foreign photographers since the late 19th century, starting with the 1901 monograph by the British colonial administrator T.J. Alldridge. Such historical photographs are often included in African art exhibitions to help contextualize the objects on display. Julie Crooks, head of Global Arts of Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), discusses the compelling career of Alphonso Lisk-Carew (1883–1969), one of the few local Sierra Leonean professional photographers of the early 20th century.
This program complements the exhibition The Language of Beauty in African Art, which brings together more than 250 sculptures and other art forms from dozens of distinct cultures across the African continent.
About the Speaker
Julie Crooks is curator of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora at the Art Gallery of Ontario. She holds a PhD from the Department of History of Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK. The title of her dissertation is Alphonso Lisk-Carew and Early Photography in Sierra Leone. Since joining the AGO in 2017, she has curated a number of significant exhibitions, including Free Black North (2017), Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires (2018), and presentations from the permanent collection such as Photography, 1920s–1940s: Women in Focus (2019–2020) and Fragments of Epic Memory (2021–22). She has actively participated in bringing works by Black artists into the collection and most notably the Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs, acquired in 2019. Julie has also maintained an active presence outside the AGO. She co-curated Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art at the Royal Ontario Museum in 2018. She is also a founding Board member of Black Artists Network in Dialogue (BAND), where she also curated many exhibitions including, Ears, Eyes, Voices: Black Canadian Photojournalists, 1970s–1990s (2017), and she is a founding member of the Black Curators Forum which launched in 2019 to advocate for and support Black curators working in Canada.
This lecture is made possible by the Frank J. Mooney Memorial Fund.
Please note that this is an in-person event that takes place at the museum. In accordance with state and City of Chicago guidelines, visitors to the museum are no longer required to wear masks or provide proof of vaccination, though anyone who would like to wear a mask is encouraged to do so. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 in the week before your visit, we ask that you stay home. We appreciate your help in keeping the museum a healthy and safe place for our staff and visitors. Learn more about our visiting policies.
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