Midland Center for the Arts faculty display work in UAG

Artist Ruth Howell’s mixed media piece “Vestiges of Time.” Vanguard Photo | Nicole Vogelpohl

The University Art Gallery (UAG) is housing an exhibit displaying the work of the Midland Center for the Arts art faculty.

Sara Clark, the interim gallery coordinator at the UAG, said she was excited about working on the exhibition.

“The artists who teach at the Midland Center for the Arts all came to teaching at various points in their artistic careers but are passionate about their work and the work they do with students,” Clark said. “Each presented work that reflects their professional interests and what they teach.”

One of the artists, Pamela Hart, currently has three pieces of work displayed in the exhibit.

The works belong to a series called “Daughter Warriors.”

“The name of each of my pieces is important to the conversation I wish to have with the viewers, challenging them to learn more about Mali and to measure the importance of women and cultures in new ways,” Hart said.

Because of her own daughters’ ancestry from Mali, Africa, Hart said she was inspired by African history when creating her art.

“I hope [these pieces] will provoke conversations with my daughters about their heritage as well as their potential as women,” Hart said.

Hart explained that such conversations are increasingly relevant in today’s divisive society.

“Now more than ever, it is imperative to understand the importance of cultures that are not acknowledged in our written western histories, and the role of women in advancing the great cultures of the world,” Hart said.

Each of her three pieces is a vessel, inspired by the shapes of clay pots, baskets and gourds. They also include traditional designs from ethnic groups in Mali.

“I’ve chosen to use a tripod base when hand building these pots because it is an ancient form, and when I push out the clay from the inside to make a bowl, it takes on a personality of its own,” Hart said. “It speaks to my vision of a woman warrior as an individual who stands strong in her role.”

Her first vessel, “The Sun, the Moon, and the Stars,” pays homage to the Dogon people.

“Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky,” she said. “Recently a twin star was discovered. The Dogon people of Mali have known of the two stars for several centuries. They also knew that Jupiter had at least four moons.”

Her second vessel, “The Gele of My Ancestors,” has a hat-like flamboyance on the stopper, which she explained is meant to represent the exuberant head tie worn by women in Western Africa.

The third piece, “Ahangbe,” has a womanly figure and is named after Queen Ahangbe, who created the all-woman army called the Dohomy Mino, according to legend.

“These women were considered some of the fiercest warriors in the world,” Hart said. “It is an amazing example of women in history as strong and powerful as men.”

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