Art exhibit in Foster Tanner displays motherhood in positive light

With statues made of bronze, stone, and wood, The Majesty of African Motherhood exhibit made its debut in the Foster Tanner Arts Gallery.

The gallery was filled with students and observers who came out to experience the uniqueness of the sculptures.

The exhibition “demonstrates the importance of women and their role in the family and African society,” Harry Wiltscher said.

Wiltscher, director of the gallery, explained how privileged Florida A&M University is to possess such brilliant and creative work.

There are “over 86 pieces of work, worth over a million dollars, which is unheard of for our facilities with its size and small amount of staff,” Wiltscher said.

The sculptures and photos showcase women engaging in everyday activities, caring for their children and nurturing others in their community.

The women depicted symbolize the creator, protector, teacher, nurturer and cultural line of the family.

The gallery relates directly to the modern woman, Wiltscher said. The exhibit represents women and their roles as bearers of black culture.

As a student working the gallery, Kenna Calloway, 21, a junior fine arts student, from Daytona Beach said, “(The exhibit) reminded me of the importance of women’s role as a part of a family, specifically African-American families.”

As Calloway reflected on the exhibition, she distinctly remembers a golden bronze sculpture mounted on the wall.

She was in awe by the fact that, compared to the other pieces, “it showed strength in a feminine way.”

The statues capture the African woman’s beauty and varied in sizes, colors and textures.

Photos on the wall showed women washing clothes in the river and children clinging to their mothers and doing chores.

Calloway said it was “the first time actually seeing motherhood represented so well.”

Jiliyan Kelly, 17, a student observer, had a project to do on the exhibit. “I heard about the exhibit in class and thought it might be interesting,” said Kelly, a freshman pharmacy student from Fort Lauderdale.

Herman Bigham and Associates and the Foster Tanner Fine Arts Gallery partnered to bring the gallery to campus.

According to organizers, the main purpose of the gallery is to spark the past of African ancestors and the culture’s importance in our society through art and make them both relevant to today.

Most observers said they were appreciative of the art featured in the gallery. “I would definitely come again; it is a different side of FAMU I haven’t seen,” Kelly said.

The exhibition has been open since Aug. 28 and will run through Jan. 15, 2007.

Wiltscher said that about 70 percent of the staff and students do not know about the existence of the exhibit and encourages every one to come out and experience the power of the African art.