Art’s Power to Connect

Artists are storytellers. In their work, they often tell us stories about their own lives or the lives of the people or communities they depict. Their creations can capture a moment in time or make a human connection in ways that history books alone cannot, allowing us to better understand the heart and soul of…

Zulu Beaded Ensembles: Materials Analysis

After the departure of beading expert Hlengi Dube, work continues on the survey of the Zulu ensemble components in order to pair the cultural and structural examination with a scientific materials study. With the insights into the importance of materials choice afforded by this consultation, I sought to characterize as many materials as possible using…

Neer and Far: Experiencing Congo Masks at VMFA

William Neer, VMFA’s curatorial assistant for exhibitions, discusses Congo Masks: Masterpieces from Central Africa, which is curated by Marc Leo Felix, director of the Congo Basin Art History Research Center in Brussels, Belgium. In its only North American venue, the exhibition at VMFA is an innovative and visually compelling display of artistry and cultures, showcasing more…

Peptide analysis of a material imbedded into the abdomen and sides of this Songye Community Nkisi (VMFA 89.27)

Beneath the Surface of African Art: Leather, Bone and Blood- Proteomics in Art Conservation

By Casey Mallinckrodt, Andrew Mellon Assistant Conservator Conservators carry out technical analyses to identify materials to guide our decision-making, if treatment is required, and to predict and prevent future deterioration by ensuring that objects are handled and stored appropriately. In addition, technical information contributes to our understanding of an object within its cultural context and enhances what…

Zulu Necklace

Beneath the Surface of African Art: Zulu Beaded Ensembles, An Orientation

By Kathryn Brugioni Gabrielli, Assistant Conservator As an objects conservator and an emerging professional, I have had limited experience thinking beyond the theoretical when it comes to the care, preservation, and treatment of textiles. As such, I was especially excited at the prospect of my first project during my fellowship at the VMFA. After my…

Beneath the Surface of African Art: The Importance of Wood Identification

By Casey Mallinckrodt, Assistant Conservator The conservation initiative in African art funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation is allowing the VMFA Conservation Center to deepen capacity by acquiring analytic equipment, engaging specialist consultants, and also by developing specialized expertise within the Conservation staff. This winter Assistant Conservator Casey Mallinckrodt participated in an intensive course…

South African Artist Esther Mahlangu Awarded Honorary Doctorate by the University of Johannesburg

Esther Mahlangu, whose dazzling, mural-size paintings provide a gateway to the VMFA African art galleries, has just been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg for “her legacy as a cultural entrepreneur and educator, skillfully negotiating local and global worlds.” Dr. Mahlangu, the most renowned artist of South Africa’s Ndebele people, developed the…

African American Read-In: Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney recites “Wise I” by Amiri Baraka in front of Sanford Biggers’s artwork Overstood

African American Read-In at VMFA

The galleries at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts were full of a different kind of art — literature — at the African American Read-In (AARI). This annual event, which occurs during Black History Month, celebrates African and African American art and literature as community leaders read aloud in front of African and African American…