Works of art are visual representations of artists’ worldview, identities, cultures, ideas, and personal lives. By examining and interpreting works of art we learn from the experiences of others. In-depth examinations of visual art by African artists supports students as they learn about the diverse cultures, history, and politics of the continent. The following is a curated list of resources that provide information about traditional and contemporary works of African art.
Find Inspiration!Gallery of African Artists
A curated list of resources dedicated to showcasing contemporary African artists.Google Arts & Culture Africa
Google Arts and Culture now has a vast collection of online museum exhibits on Africa, from the world’s leading museums. You can even do a walk through of some of the museums using Google Streetview.
Don’t know where to start?
What does it mean to create art centered around ancient African artifacts, places, and people? How do we design learning experiences that both grow students’ knowledge and motivation to know more about the continent while ensuring that they are critically self-aware of not decontextualizing, appropriating, or misrepresenting any person, place, or object? How to teach art through African Studies while instilling students’ reverence and respect for the continent? Here are some guidelines and sample lessons for teachers to approach this work with a lens of social justice.
- Kanga Cloths Communicating Identity through Textiles: Pattern, Color, and Prose, 7th-8th grade, by Marie Darling. A wonderful unit that presents the history of Kanga Cloths and creative ways to engage students with their meaning and beauty, without reproduction or appropriation.
- Masks and Masquerades have been a contentious subject in teaching about Africa, for the obvious reason that they have been taught reductively, in a decontextualized way, and have been appropriated in ways that are not respectful of people’s actual practices they come from. These two curriculum units present a culturally responsive way of teaching about masks that engages students with mask-making without appropriation, reduction, or reproduction.
- Dancing with the ancestors: A study of Egungun Masquerades and Nick Cave’s Soundsuits, Pre-K-K. by Paula Mans.
- Exploring Identity through Yoruba culture, Masks, and the Contemporary Artists of the Diaspora, 6th-7th grade, by Marie Darling.
- Making Kenyan Galimotos: A lesson plan dedicated to Kenyan galimotos.
- Two short lessons introducing students to explore artists’ personal meanings
|Hear Kenyan artist and film-maker Wanuri Kahiu discuss why she creates fun, fierce, and frivolous “Afrobubble gum art” and what she means by that.|
- African and European Images of Each Other
- Art and Life in Africa Series: A collection of essays, chapters, and contextual information about different African cultures and art curated by the University of Iowa.