NOMA is reconsidering the presentation of African arts to focus on human experience as the driving force for the dynamic production and circulation of people, ideas and works of art. This rethinking involves critically engaging with the histories of colonialism and Western collecting practices, as well as connecting these histories to contemporary concerns and highlighting the relevance of historic arts to daily life.
It also means pluralizing the voices, artists and time periods represented in the galleries.
For the first time in NOMA’s history, contemporary art by living artists will be featured in the African art galleries. Now on view, this painting by Owusu-Ankomah explores themes of identity and the body, representing human forms, signs and systems of communication at the same time. In Movement No. 19, the artist simultaneously reveals and obscures a crouching human form — and perhaps his own identity — within a field of stylized adinkra motifs, widely recognized as Pan-African symbols.
Centuries old and Ghanaian in origin, adinkra are ideographic representations of instructional proverbs, philosophies and values. Adinkra symbolic expressions are versatile and can be found in gestures, performances, textiles, ceramics and architecture — both in West Africa and throughout the world, including in New Orleans.
Bridging bodily and linguistic forms, Owusu-Ankomah visually represents our ability to communicate between individuals and across different cultural groups.