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Visual Culture of Women in West Africa

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Marika Yeo

on 3 December 2012

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Transcript of Visual Culture of Women in West Africa

Visual Culture of Women in
West Africa How has the image of women developed over time
in West Africa? Masquarades
Focus on Mende people of Sierra Leone and the Sande association.Women in these masquerades prepared young women for adulthood, marriage, and motherhood.The masks in these masquerades have a fixed stylistic frame work and motifs which relate to the fusion of femininity and spirituality, based on the purpose of the ceremony.

These are singers and poets who have been marginalized in West African society because of their gender. Much information is provided on the male Griot, however female Griottes have continuously been overlooked as artists. Because of their roles in society, they have a great influence within the culture of the people, yet the gender biases have over time proved to dismiss many of the contributions made by Griottes. Performance Art Physical Appearance of Women in West

One of my specific focuses is on hair and how it is related to the aesthetic tradition of adornment. The visual aesthetic of hair can denote social status, religious affiliation, and age.


Scarification is seen on many women in West African cultures and is also reflected in visual representations of these women in art. Scarification can represent ethnic groups, social status and family. Aesthetics of the Human Body Throughout time what has been considered as domestic art?

Domestic art in West African cultures has often been categorized by art historians, in Africa as well as in Europe, as pottery and the creation of functional objects.

How does gender roles affect this concept?

There has been a gender divide in the creation of art in West African cultures. It has been common for the male to create sculptural works while the women were expected to only create objects which would benefit the household. Domestic Art Performance Art
Alteration of the human body
"Domestic Art"
Wood Carving Wood Carving How is wood carving used to depict
Wood carving is in art form that traditionally is done by males in West Africa. It is used for the creation of masks in masquerades and for sculptural works. Often wood carvings, especially masks, are imbued with spiritual and ritualistic meaning and are seen to hold a certain power within the communities in which they are created. Summary West African art has traditionally been divided and influenced by gender roles and the expectations that come with these roles. Many contemporary West African artists are using these past traditions as a building block for their art to address gender roles in society today, and to analyze women’s roles in art throughout West African history. Contemporary Art done by Women in West Africa

Lucy Azubuike

Born and studied in Nigeria

Now lives in Atlanta

Focus on women's issues of identity, West African culture and societal roles
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