AFRICA AT NOON: Gallery Tour, Whirling Return of the Ancestors

January 24, 2018 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Ruth Davis Design Gallery, School of Human Ecology
Nancy Nicholas Hall
1300 Linden Dr, Madison, WI 53706

“Gallery Tour, Part I: Whirling Return of the Ancestors”

Henry Drewal
Evjue-Bascom Professor, African and African Diaspora Art History
University of Wisconsin-Madison


*** Please note that this event will NOT be held in Ingraham 205, but instead, will take guests on a gallery tour, held at the School of Human Ecology’s Ruth Davis Design Gallery.


This special AFRICA AT NOON will feature an art gallery tour by Evjue-Bascom Professor and African Studies affiliate Henry Drewal. It will take place at the Ruth Davis Design Gallery in the School of Human Ecology at 1300 Linden Drive (two buildings east of Ingraham Hall).

The Ruth Davis Design Gallery hosts the exhibition Whirling Return of the Ancestors, a dynamic, multi-sensorial exhibition of sights, sounds, motions, and emotions. The exhibition presents the rich and varied artistry of Egúngún masquerades and other arts inspired by a tradition that honors and celebrates the power and eternal presence of ancestors among Yorùbá peoples of West Africa. This connection between the living and the departed is expressed in a Yorùbá saying: “The world is a marketplace [we visit], the otherworld is home.” (Ayé l’ọjà, ọ̀run n’ilé).

Whirling Return of the Ancestors was researched, organized, and curated by students in the fall 2017 Art History Curatorial Studies-Exhibition Practice class taught by Evjue-Bascom Professor Henry Drewal. The project was developed in collaboration with the Ruth Davis Design Gallery in the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) and resonates closely with SoHE’s vision to inspire global intercultural experiences, reach new audiences, and welcome creativity through synthesizing research, outreach, and engagement.


Henry J. Drewal is an art historian specializing in the arts of the Yoruba-speaking peoples of West Africa and the African Diaspora. His six years of research and study in Africa included apprenticeships with Yoruba sculptors. He is the author of Beads, Body, and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe (1998); Yoruba: Nine Centuries of African Art and Thought (1989); Gelede: Art and Female Power Among the Yoruba (1983, 2nd Edition, 1990); exhibition catalogues: Introspectives: Contemporary Art By Americans and Brazilians of African Descent (1989); Shapes of the Mind (1988); African Artistry: Technique and Aesthetics in Yoruba Sculpture (1980); and numerous articles in African Arts and other journals. He is currently working on an exhibition/book project about the visual history and culture of the African water spirit, Mami Wata, and books on Ijebu-Yoruba and Afro-Brazilian art history.