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Detroit Institute Of Arts Groundbreaking African Art Exhibition Awarded $323,000 From National Endowment For The Humanities

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant of $323,000 to produce the groundbreaking African art exhibition tentatively titled Power and Parody: The European through African Eyes, 1500-Present. The exhibition is scheduled to be on view at the DIA in 2008. The grant is among the largest ever awarded by the NEH, and is the largest NEH grant ever received by the DIA. The grant will also help fund the exhibition catalog, visitor research, and educational programs.

“These grants are extremely difficult to earn, as the NEH's policy is to award very large grants to a small number of applicants,” said Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “To be awarded a grant in such a competitive arena is a great compliment, reflecting the highest regard of the integrity of the project from a group of our peers.”

Power and Parody, directed by Dr. Nii Quarcoopome, DIA curator of African art, breaks new ground as the first traveling exhibition to examine 500 years of cultural and political interactions between Africans and European outsiders, making it the broadest overview on the subject to date. Power and Parody will showcase 120 of Africa’s finest three-dimensional artworks in wood, ivory, metal, and textiles from the DIA, other leading American and international museums and private collections. Unlike previous exhibitions, it will combine these diverse artworks—from 16th-century Benin bronze sculptures to late 20th-century masks and figures—with related items, such as photographs, film clips, and recorded narrations, to tell the ongoing story of Africa’s interactions with the Western world.

Power and Parody will expand the public’s understanding of Africa as a multiplicity of cultures, each with a different history of relations with Europeans. Visitors will also learn that dynamic cultural exchanges have not only produced new African art forms, but have also stimulated new social values and modes of governance.

“I am gratified that the NEH has given this project such a vote of confidence by awarding the funds to help make it a reality,” said Quarcoopome. “Through this grant, the NEH recognizes the potential of Power and Parody to address the African-European interaction in all its complexity, revealing aspects that have either been ignored or underreported. The exhibition emphasizes African perspectives on many critical issues, which are not only important to present to the public, but also make a valuable contribution to African art scholarship.”