Reliving a journey through art

In the early 1900s, the African people were forced to find new land. Due to foreign incursion into their lands, African tribes struggled for years to overcome this struggle of migration.

A new art exhibit at USF, The Field’s Edge: Africa, Diaspora, Lens, located at the Contemporary Art Museum, captures this hardship.

The relationship between contemporary art and colonial ethnography in the area of the African Diaspora is the main focus of the exhibit, said Rory Bester, a curator for the exhibit.

Bester said displays will highlight the major themes of politics of narrative and domestic life in regards to the Diaspora.

Bester said Diaspora is essentially when a group of people are forced to migrate from their land and relocate elsewhere. Bester said this was the case of the people of South Africa in the 1930s when they were forced out of their homeland due to the infringement of foreigners who wished to settle there.

Amanda Carlson, a visiting assistant professor in USF’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, said the history of these peoples’ migration will be the main highlight of the exhibit.

“We’ve really brought in the concept of photography and the lens,” said Carlson. “We look at the history of not just the lens, but how the lens has been used to represent Africa and how Africans have utilized the lens to represent themselves.”

Carlson said the exhibit has taken a different approach to the idea of Diaspora than some previous exhibits. She said there is the tendency of foreign-made exhibits to be created for foreign audiences.

“In developing this project, I was keen on the idea of working with a collaborator in Africa,” said Carlson. “After traveling to South Africa, we were pleased to find a collaborator in Bester, who was familiar with the art histories of Africa.”

Carlson said the artist in this exhibit chose various topics in which to express their view of the migration.

Carlson added the exhibit brings together a variety of artists who have different aspects of this migration. The artists focus on the effects of this migration on other regions of the world.

“To have artists of the caliber of Berni Searle, Mary Magdalena Campos-Pons and Odili Donald Odita is truly an example of the Diaspora,” said Carlson. “Berni Searle coming to us from Cape Town (South Africa), Mary Magdalena Campos-Pons being born and raised in Cuba and Odili Donald Odita who is from Nigeria but has lived all over the United States.”

Campos-Pons, one of the artists featured in the exhibit, said that the influence of the Diaspora in her work has been as a way of showing how these people have come together to form a melting pot.

“My take on Diaspora is basically where different people, as a result of the migrations, have come together to form a new soup that brings many different flavors together to create a new flavor,” said Camps-Pons.

The exhibit will run until Dec. 21 and will be on display in the USF Contemporary Art Museum.