Many visitors, especially those coming with families, often start their visit to the DMA in the Center for Creative Connections (C3), a great starting point because it is located on the first floor, in the heart of the museum, and displays works of art from across the Museum’s diverse collection. However, after starting in C3, visitors tend to ask, “What else should we see while we’re here?” Of course, there could be a multitude of answers to that question, but I think I’ve laid out a nice action plan, using one of my favorite artworks currently on view in C3 as a starting point.
In the main C3 Gallery, notice the similarities between The Minotaur by Marcel Dzama and Ram Mask with Feather Cape created by the Kom people of Cameroon. They both depict features of two beings, The Minotaur with the head of a bull and the body of a human, and Ram Mask with Feather Cape with a stylized mask representative of a ram and a cape made of chicken feathers. Taking this idea as a starting point for works to see throughout the Museum, exit C3 and turn right down the main concourse. Headdown the concourse and take the Red Elevator up to the 4th Floor. Upon exiting, turn left and walk through the Native American Art gallery, taking a left into American Art. Then stay to the right and walk to the back corner where the American Silver Gallery is located. In a small case in the center of this gallery you will encounter the beautifully intricate silver Vase (for the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York.
Notice the serpentine handles culminating in bird heads and the etched patterns of scrolls and masks. Next, continue to walk around and through the American Gallery and take the small staircase that leads to the African Gallery. At the bottom of the staircase, walk to the far end of the gallery and take a right to find the Helmet mask (kifwebe) and costume.
Kifwebe masks are “composite beings,” compiled of human and animal elements. The striated designs on them derive from the markings and patterns of wild or dangerous animals such as antelopes, zebras, and okapi. The central crest may represent that of an ape or rooster. When you view this work of art in the galleries, it is accompanied by a short video which shows the mask in use, truly bringing it to life. Finally, continue through the African Gallery and take a left into the Egyptian section. To your immediate left you will find a collection of small works including a slate remnants depicting Thoth, God of Learning and Patron of Scribes a human figure with the head of an ibis.
Visit all of these works, for free, during your Thanksgiving break.
Jessica Fuentes is The Center for Creative Connections Gallery Manager at the DMA