The special exhibition “Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 to Present” is the focus of this year’s Bal Africain fundraiser at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). The event takes place on April 10 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and is presented by the DIA’s Friends of African and African American Art (FAAAA), one of the museum’s oldest auxiliaries. Sponsors include FAAAA, DTE Energy and Ford Motor Company. Proceeds benefit the DIA.
The Detroit Institute of Arts auxiliary Friends of African and African American Art are one of the sponsors of the exhibition Through African Eyes: The European in African Art, 1500 to Present. Other support comes from DTE Energy Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The evening begins with a VIP cocktail reception from 6 p.m. to 7. A strolling dinner is available from from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and dancing begins at 8 p.m. Guests will be treated to a live performance by Jerry LeDuff, Mark Stone and Kofi Ameyaw, American and African musicians that unite American-jazz sounds of vibraphone, drums and electric bass with the richness of African marimba, kalimba and hand drums.
“In addition to enjoying delicious food and lively entertainment, this year’s guests will have the pleasure and privilege of being the first to see our ground-breaking exhibition Through African Eyes,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “Dr. Nii Quarcoopome, DIA curator of African art, has brought together some of the best African art in the world, including many of our own objects, to illustrate how African artists expressed their dynamic interactions with Europeans and Westerners over 500 years.”
“Through African Eyes” will be open for viewing throughout the evening. The exhibition provides riveting visual commentaries on five centuries of interactions between Africans and Europeans and Westerners—from early commercial relations to founding of European permanent settlements to European colonial rule to recent post-independence interactions with the West.
By casting the European as the cultural “other,” the exhibition reverses longstanding Eurocentric perspectives that have dominated African art studies. African voices, heard through recorded oral histories and personal experiences of African elders and artists, provide their own perspectives on the meanings of the objects and motivations behind their creation.
The artworks will expand the public’s understanding of Africa as a multiplicity of cultures, each with a different history of relations with Europeans. Among the countries represented are Ghana, Mali, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“Through African Eyes” has been organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts. Generous support has been provided by the Friends of African and African American Art, the DTE Energy Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support has been provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the City of Detroit. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this exhibition do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Tickets for Bal Africain are $200, and $350 for the VIP cocktail reception. For tickets, call (313) 833-1049.