Arts & Entertainment

MSU galleries display ‘Africa: Our Heritage’

By Heather Gursky
Arts & Entertainment Editor

Starting on Feb. 19, Dr. Christine Saidi’s collection of African paintings and artwork were displayed within all three galleries of the MSU: Brass Rail, Student Union and Corner.

This contribution comes in honor of Black History Month, with the main flier stating that the art is “consciously displayed during Black History Month because it is also a celebration of the African culture and history brought to America by the ancestors of those of African descents.”

In addition, Saidi believes “it is important that students understand that Africa is not only the continent where humanity began but a part of the world that has long, complex histories and wildly creative cultures.”

Saidi began compiling her collection in 1989 when visiting Kenya and Tanzania. Some pieces, like the art made out of copper, come from her latest trip to Africa last summer. Sharing her collection with KU this year, Saidi hopes “to teach students about Africa, African art and African history.”

Bright oil paintings with intricate and precise detail can be found hanging in the Brass Rail Gallery. The gallery wisely divided the paintings based on what region they originated from; such areas include Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. Market scenes, busy streets and women working were a few of the many focuses of the artwork, depicting all aspects of life in Africa.


“Downtown Lusaka” by Henry Mulenga – Photo courtesy of Heather Gursky, The Keystone

Painted cloths, traditional khangas and a 45-square quilt were set up in the Student Union Gallery. Many of the cloths depicted simple, repetitive patterns while others included intricate designs. Unlike the first gallery, most of the cloths were lacking vibrancy.


Khangas, also known as traditional skirts and dresses, and a quilt sat separately from the rest of the gallery, standing out with explosive colors and patterns. Each khanga traditionally has its own theme such as “If we respect each other, we will love each other” that goes along with its bright and bold appearance. The quilt was also remarkable to view as each square represents its own little story.


“Rural Life Scene” by Joyce Mukoyi Photo by Heather Gursky, The Keystone

Walking into the Corner Gallery, viewers were greeted by small coil figures hanging from the ceiling. They were accompanied by other small figures and copper sheets that depicted women and various objects. The gallery was simple and not as busy as the other two, but the intricate detail used to make the figures and copper sheets were inspiring to see.

Saidi’s art collection contained a beautiful variety of art that gave a glimpse into African culture and life in Africa.


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