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African Art at Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Kuba Dance Mask.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT- The Utah Museum of Fine Arts presents the exhibit Africa: Arts of a Continent. After several years of rest, African art from the permanent collection returns for public viewing at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA). The exhibition, Africa: Arts of a Continent, is a permanent rotating exhibition, and includes several new acquisitions never seen before by the public. The forms and meanings of traditional African art are strikingly diverse. To illustrate this diversity, Africa: Arts of a Continent focuses on four cultures: the Dogon of Mali, the Baulé of the Ivory Coast, the Yoruba of Nigeria and the Kuba Kingdom of the Congo. This organization makes evident the patterns of form and meaning that are unique to a region as well as the differences in works from other areas. Africa: Arts of a Continent also incorporates several ancient Egyptian burial objects from various dynasties and explores the importance of the Nile.

"The UMFA is pleased to see the return of African art to our galleries," states UMFA Director David Dee. "Each work has a unique story behind its creation and utilization. Visitors to the exhibition are taken on a journey through regions of Africa to experience the rites and rituals of its native cultures."

One of the intriguing objects displayed from the Baulé culture of the Ivory Coast is a Blolo Bian, or "Spirit Spouse." A Blolo Bian represents the spirit mate of the opposite sex that each person has in the Other World. The Baulé people believe that before you were born, you were married in the spirit world. When you are born, your spirit spouse follows you into mortal life. The spirit spouse helps you throughout life in personal achievement, interpersonal relationships and in matters of wealth. However, a spirit spouse may also cause trouble if it is not kept happy. Therefore, it must be kept well-fed, clean and protected with a covering.

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