Lecture Focuses on Mask Characters of Four-Corners Region of Africa

Makishi: Mask Characters of Zambia
Thursday, March 27, at 7 pm, Free

Stanford, California — On Thursday, March 27, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents the 2008 Ruth K. Franklin Lecture on the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. This year's lecture is by independent scholar Manuel Jordán Pérez, who will focus on the exhibition “Makishi: Mask Characters of Zambia,” on view March 26–June 29, 2008.

Jordán, a former Cantor Arts Center curator, selected the works in the exhibition from the collection of the Fowler Museum at UCLA, and he wrote the essay for the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition. Jordán’s lecture will explore the rich masquerade tradition of ethnic groups living in the “Three Corners” region of Zambia, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of Congo: the Chokwe, Mbunda, Lunda, Luvale/Lwena, and Luchazi peoples.

The lecture, presented in the Cantor Arts Center auditorium, begins at 7 pm. The public is welcome. Admission is free, with open seating. For more information, call 650-725-3115 or visit the Center's Web site at museum.stanford.edu.

Jordán wrote about the mask traditions in the exhibition catalogue, “By virtue of the spiritual or supernatural powers they embody or engage, masquerades — events involving many masked performers — appear throughout Africa to assist in human transitions that range from coming-of-age rituals to funerals. . . . Masks also mediate human conflicts through divination or problem solving and may be summoned during ominous times to help society understand and cope with major calamities such as war and illness. Masquerades are vital forms at the cutting edge of society, and as such they are in a constant state of adaptation, responding to the new by assimilating and negotiating it in public arenas where redefined or new mask forms are able to address current political issues, new technologies, or any other form of socially critical, current information.”

Ruth Franklin was the first Phyllis Wattis Curator for the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Cantor Arts Center. Just prior to her retirement and her untimely death in 2000, she assisted in selecting Manuel Jordán Pérez, Ph.D., as the next Wattis Curator. Franklin's curatorial work significantly strengthened the Cantor Arts Center collection. In 2002, an anonymous donor endowed the Ruth K. Franklin Fund for Lectures and Symposia in the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. Memorial gifts from numerous donors also supported the Franklin Fund, which makes possible an annual lecture or symposium in perpetuity. The Center presented the first Ruth K. Franklin Symposium in 2003.

VISITOR INFORMATION The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday–Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm, Thursday until 8 pm. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford University campus off Palm Drive. Call 650-723-4177 or visit the Center’s Web site at museum.stanford.edu for directions, parking instructions, and information about events, free tours, and exhibitions in the Center’s 24 galleries.

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Luvale peoples, Zambia, Pwevo reinterpreted as Mwana Pweveo or Chiwigi (young woman). Wood, plant fiber, cordage, and beads. Lent by the Fowler Museum at UCLA

Exhibition press release