San Diego Mesa College showcases traditional African artwork

Posted at 9:25 PM, Feb 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-12 00:25:23-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Mesa College's art gallery celebrates Black history with a new exhibit showcasing traditional African artwork. The exhibit, "Africa in Context," is much more than a collection of artwork, masks and statues.

"Every time you see a mask, you can trace everyone's lineage back to the motherland," said Dr. Denise Rogers, Professor of Fine Arts History at San Diego Mesa College.

Dr. Rogers curated the exhibition.

"The exhibit features pieces from the Mesa College permanent collection. The collection has been a part of the campus for about 40 years," said Dr. Rogers. "Donors started contributing to this collection. At this point we have close to 1,300 pieces in the collection."

Many of the exhibit's pieces are masks with complete outfits, some standing higher than 6 feet tall. Visitors can see several shrines nearby.

"We have these amazing masks, and fibers and so on. But they're very static, and sometimes they're on pedestals. That's not how they were meant to be seen. I wanted people to see them closer to the true context of how they were meant to be seen," said Rogers. "Pieces like the masks in the center, they're performative. They needed their own space. Because when you think of African masks, you have to say masquerade."

So each piece tells a story about Africa's rich heritage.

"You trace the history of humanity, you go to Africa. It's everyone's history," said Rogers. "Everyone is embedded in the pieces in this collection."

The Africa in Context exhibit will stay open at the San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery until Feb. 23.