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Art&Seek on Think TV: The Arts of Africa at the DMA

by Jerome Weeks 15 Jan 2010 3:29 PM

Westerners often see African art as ‘folk crafts’ — anyone made them. But according to Roslyn Adele Walker, the DMA’s senior curator of African art, that’s because early explorers weren’t interested in individual artists. There actually have been celebrated artists in Africa, and the DMA has one of our country’s leading collections of their work. The museum has just released a new, sumptuous book by Dr. Walker, showcasing the collection’s riches.


The Dallas Museum of Art has one of the leading collections of African art in this country — thanks, in part, to the early interest and continuing support of Margaret McDermott. For the 40th anniversary of the collection, the DMA has released a handsomely illustrated new book (through Yale University Press), The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art. The book showcases 110 items in the museum — from fantastic masks and crowns to statues and clothing. The author is Roslyn Adele Walker, the DMA’s senior curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas and the Pacific. Before coming to the DMA, Dr. Walker was the director of the Smithsonian’s  National Museum of African Art in Washington, D. C.

We talk to Dr. Walker about the collection, about the nature of African art and about her book. Tonight at 7 p.m. at the DMA, she’ll be signing The Arts of Africa and talking about her research and the items currently on display.


Headdress from Guinea and the nkisi nkondi from the Congo

  • Brenda Temple Tull

    Dr. Walker:

    Wonderful interview on Dallas Museum of Art’s African art collection and your research and book The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art. Perhaps this was mentioned at other times, remember also that your alma mater, Hampton Institute, started collecting African art much earlier than the exciting, revolutionary 1960’s. 🙂 Looking forward to ordering and reading your beautiful new book. Big Congrats on this! We are always so proud of you.
    Love – your friends and family,
    Knox and Brenda and
    Mossi and Carmen and Nzinga and Kimathi
    and Hatshepsitu (Wash., DC)

  • I attended the exhibition “African Masks: The Art of Disguise” at the Dallas Museum of Art and enjoyed Roslyn Walker’s educational tour of the exhibit. The masks are a wonderful way to expose our community to African history and culture, which is lacking in American education.

    Please visit this exhibit and use it as an opportunity to learn more about world cultures.

  • Michael Kaiser

    I remember going to the DMA about this time a year ago to see the exhibit. I had the pleasure of being accompanied by my spiritual mentor Dongo Remi. He was able to explain the spiritual and metaphysical significance of the masks and nkisi artifacts in the museum that no one else was able to. Really great exhibit and experience!