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Spirit and Power in African Art at Godwin-Ternbach Museum


Phyllis Cohen Stevens
Deputy Director of News Services

(718) 997-5597

Maria Matteo
News Assistant
(718) 997-5593


FLUSHING, NY, September 20, 2007 -- Masks, figures, and ritual and practical objects from three centuries and 14 countries will be on

Giwoyo mask
Wood, fiber,
Pende, Democratic
Republic of the Congo,
early to mid 20th c.
Gift of William Siegmann
Godwin-Ternbach Museum, 2006.3.2
display when the Godwin-Ternbach Museum opens Spirit and Power in African Art, on view from October 1 through December 15, 2007.

Guest curated by William Siegmann—head of the Brooklyn Museum’s Department of African and Oceanic Art from 1983-2007—the exhibition features more than 100 items made of wood, copper, iron, brass, bronze and ivory, as well as textiles. The oldest piece, a cast-copper neck ring dating from the 11th-15th century, comes from Mali, while among the newest are two ritual masks of wood and fiber dating from the early to mid-20th century from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These items are part of a large group of masks, bronze and metal currencies and jewelry recently donated to the museum. The exhibition will use field photographs and documentary films to illustrate their use and context.

The exhibition draws on the permanent collections of the Godwin-Ternbach and the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery, which is presenting a concurrent exhibition, A Cameroon World: Art and Artifacts from the Marshall and Caroline Mount Collection, October 18, 2007, through February 28, 2008. (

“Spirit and Power extends the museum’s ongoing commitment to the diverse Queens community,” says Godwin-Ternbach director Amy Winter. “Previous exhibitions have explored Asian, Latin American, and Middle Eastern cultures, as well as the histories of Jews, Italians, and other immigrant groups. Now, with the help of donors and generous loans from the Queensborough Community College Art Gallery, we are ready to present the extraordinary art of Africa. We feel privileged to have someone of the distinction of Dr. Siegmann curating this exhibition, which will allow interpretation of the objects regarding their aesthetic power, original contexts, and impact on global culture.”

“This exhibition illustrates how art and aesthetics and spirit and power are intertwined in African cultures,” says Siegmann. “Sculpture and masks are essential to religious rites in maintaining social order, and social control is often maintained through performances, with masks that teach social values and enforce communal laws and regulations. Daily life is enhanced and the spirit uplifted by clothing made from beautiful, hand-woven and dyed textiles. All of these themes
House of the Head
Yoruba, Nigeria,
early to mid 20th c.
Queensborough Community
College Art Gallery Collection
will be examined and illustrated through examples from the Godwin-Ternbach collection and loans from additional lenders.”

The opening reception for Spirit and Power in African Art will be held on Wednesday, October 3 from 6:30 – 7:30 pm. Just prior, from 5:30 – 6:30 pm, Dr. Siegmann will conduct an exhibition tour, “Perspectives on African Art,” in the museum.

The public is cordially invited to these free events and a host of public programs organized in collaboration with the Kuperferberg Center for the Arts and the Queens College Africana Studies Program, including a performance by AQUAMOON, a Chicago women’s group that “...bridges the gap between the streets, hip-hop feminism, and performance activism.” A lecture series by experts in art, literature, and cultural studies will further the educational mission of the project.

Spirit and Power provides a compelling look at the significance and influence of African art. It will display and interpret objects, contextualizing them with field photographs to show them in use, and consider their aesthetic, social and religious significance. It will explore the reciprocal, rather than one-way, interaction between Western and African cultures in the spirit of the new “global” consciousness, and add an important dimension to the picture of aesthetic evolution as well as to the role of Africa in global artistic and cultural exchange.



“Perspectives on African Art” William Siegmann, Curator Emeritus
Wed., October 3, 5:30-6:30 pm Dept. of African and Oceanic Art
Brooklyn Museum of Art

OPENING RECEPTION: Wed., October 3, 2007, 6:30-7:30 pm, Godwin-Ternbach Museum


“African Art and 20th-Century Art” Amy Winter, Director and Curator
Wed., October 24, 5:30 pm Godwin-Ternbach Museum
“Representing Traditions of Art” Charles Martin, Photographer & Professor
Mon., Nov. 12, 12:15 pm Comparative Literature, Queens College

AFRICANA STUDIES LECTURE SERIES, Benjamin Rosenthal Library, 5th Floor,
President’s Conference Room 2

“Thief's paradise: Hip-hop and Post-Civil Rights Politics”
Michael Ralph, NYU, Dept. of Social and Cultural Analysis
October 17, 12:15 to 1:30 pm

“Cuba Represent ! Culture, State Power, and Racial Politics in Contemporary Cuba”
Sujatha Fernandes, Queens College, Sociology Department
Wed., November 7, 12:15-1:30 pm

Tues., December 11, 3 pm-5pm, South Patio Room, Dining Hall

For further information, contact Africana Studies at 718-997-2845.

Friday, October 26, 8 pm, LeFrak Concert Hall
AQUAMOON - Presented by the Kupferberg Center for the Arts in association with the Godwin-Ternbach Museum and Africana Studies Program, Queens College

The exhibition and programs are made possible by the generous funding of the Milton and Sally Avery Art Foundation, the Georgia and Michael de Havenon Fund, the Solow Art and Architecture Foundation, and the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs. Additional support has been provided by the Queens College Kupferberg Center for the Arts, the Office of the President, and the Friends of the Godwin-Ternbach Museum.

Spirit and Power in African Art can be viewed from Monday through Thursday, 11 am – 7 pm and on Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm. Please note that the museum, located in Klapper Hall, Room 405, is not open on holidays and when the college is closed. Admission is free. For directions to Queens College, please visit:

For further information about Spirit and Power in African Art and public lectures and tours associated with this exhibition, call (718) 997-4747 or visit

While viewing this exhibition, visitors may also want to stop by the Queens College Art Center, which features the work of New York City photographer Sid Kerner through October 31. That exhibit will be followed on November 5 with “Brush with Nature,” installation art by Barbara Roux through December 21. For info on both:

The Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College, part of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts, is the only comprehensive collection of art and artifacts in the borough of Queens, housing over 3,500 objects that date from ancient to modern times. The mission of the GTM has grown over time from serving as a teaching museum for the benefit of art and art history students to embracing all disciplines and an increasingly diverse and engaged community. All exhibitions are free, as are their related lectures, symposia, gallery talks, workshops, films, concerts, and tours.


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(718) 997-5593

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