I went to the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum to experience El Anatsui’s New Worlds exhibit last Friday and I was pleasantly surprised by how interesting the pieces were.
In class we talked about the significance behind the fact that his sculptures were made of liquor bottle caps tied together with copper wire. We discussed the fact that bottled alcohol first came to Africa from Europe as a “consequence of contact”. Although his sculptures were a statement on Africa’s history, El Anatsui’s pieces send other messages about worldly issues as well. Some titles of the sculptures featured included, “They Finally Broke the Pot of Wisdom” inspired by a Ghanaian story, “Tiled Flower Garden” which features the unexpected beauty of bottle caps, and “Alter Ego” which challenges the observer to “consider the implications of mapping the self, in all of its dimensions.”
My favorite part about El Anatsui’s sculptures is the fact that each one is placed differently in each place it is exhibited. Writings on the exhibit describe El Anatsui’s sculptures as “catalysts for the creativity of others.” The artist expects his artwork to “hang under new light, drape in new folds, and take shape under new hands.” This is fascinating; many artists prefer to keep exhibitions uniform and present their artwork in one particular way, so this is a refreshing and unique way for an artist to view their artwork.
As you can see from my panorama I attached, I had the whole room to myself. I had plenty of time to make my way through each piece and reflect on the meanings behind them. If you are in the area and have an opportunity to visit the Mount Holyoke Art Museum, I highly recommend it; The New Worlds exhibit will stay up until June 8th, 2014.
I really like El Anatsui and a lot of my followers live nearish to this so you should go see it!