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IN PERSON ART WORKSHOP: Hands-on Art History of the African Calabash Gourd Birdhouse

Oil and Cotton Creative Exchange

IN PERSON: Hands-on Art History of the African Calabash Gourd Birdhouse
CLASS DATE: Sunday, May 23, 1-3pm
LOCATION: Oil and Cotton Studio
INSTRUCTOR: Jessica Hurd
AGES: 10 to adult

*We are limiting in person classes to 8 students. You must wear a mask throughout the entire class and adhere to our safety policies.

This workshop celebrates the creativity of African calabash artists, many of whom are women. The calabash (also known as a gourd) is a lightweight, durable, accessible, watertight, earth-friendly artistic medium that has served countless ritual and quotidian functions in Africa throughout history. We will explore how African women artists often engrave their beloved calabash vessels with images of their personal tattoos, scarification marks, and various cultural or natural objects they value in their everyday lives (nets if they fish, cattle if they sell milk...). Other images express modernity, power, concepts of home, personal prayers, and local affiliations. We will also find meaning in the artists' applied stains, the spatial layout of their motifs, and their various lacing patterns. Using calabashes produced at a local farm, students will practice applying a number of African gourd artists' meaningful motifs to the surface of (1) an organically shaped vessel or (2) a birdhouse. Personal motifs expressing what makes you feel beautiful, strong, protected, or socially and spiritually connected are equally welcome! Students will also try their hands at important African gourd art techniques including pyro-engraving, staining, beading, and lacing.

You will learn:
- Some African calabash art techniques (pyro-engraving, pressure-engraving, staining, beading, and lacing). *Younger students can draft or paint their designs onto the gourd’s surface rather than using burning tools.
-The rich meaning of various motifs, lacing patterns, and spatial layouts of designs on various African calabash vessels.
-The historic connection between decorated calabash vessels and African women’s identities, aesthetics, values, and social and spiritual ties.

Students receive a kit including:
–1 Gourd Birdhouse OR 1 Vessel
– Needle
– Gold thread and earth-toned twine
– Cowrie shells and assorted seed beads

*Oil-based color pens, West African-inspired stains, fine tip sharpies, glue, glue gun, and woodburning pens will also be available. Sew holes can be drilled into the gourd upon request. 

Dr. Jessica Hurd is an art history professor (UNT, UT Arlington, Southwest School of Art) and independent curator specializing in contemporary African, Oceanic, and Latin American art. A Fulbright-Hays award and multiple research grants have allowed Jessica to apprentice with rural women ceramists and work closely with many sculptors, gourd artists, and textile artists in Mali (West Africa). During a Harvard Fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, she also researched space-based installations and gardens in South Africa, Mali, and Rwanda. These experiences have led her to develop courses like African Ceramic Art & Gender, Performing African Textiles, Contemporary African Art, African Memorials & Symbolic Space, and Redefining African Craft for DFW universities. Recent exhibitions: Contemporary Dogon Art of Amahigueré Dolo and Souleymane Ouologuem (Greater Denton Arts Council and Menil Collection).


Official Site  

  • $45
Dates & Times
  • Sunday, May 23, 2021 @ 1:00 pm   2021-05-23 13:00:00 2021-05-23 16:00:00 America/Chicago IN PERSON ART WORKSHOP: Hands-on Art History of the African Calabash Gourd Birdhouse //artandseek.org/calendar/event/107162/in-person-art-workshop-hands-on-art-history-of-the-african-calabash-gourd-birdhouse Oil and Cotton Creative Exchange, 817 West Davis Street, #110, Dallas, TX, 75208

Find This Event 817 West Davis Street · #110 · Dallas, TX 75208