New exhibits open at Tennessee State Museum

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This summer the museum will present African Art: The Collection of Jon Draud, an exhibition of approximately 150 objects on loan from a private collection. The exhibit opens July 1 in the museum’s Changing Galleries and is free to the public.

Dr. Jon Draud, a prominent Nashville psychiatrist, has documented and collected art and artifacts from the African continent for many years. The formation of Draud’s extensive collection, which now counts numerous rare and profound works of art from the 19th and 20th centuries, was initiated more than two decades ago with a professional interest in the healing customs of the African peoples. As a result, the sculptures and masks featured in this exhibition are predominately associated with healing and life-cycle beliefs and rituals representing more than 40 different African peoples with particular emphasis on central western Africa.

There are also examples from the central eastern Africa, as well as from southern Africa.  Highlights include a comprehensive and remarkable group of 20 Pende masks, along with traditional Bembe sculptures and Teke figures—all works by groups who now live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).

The skillful craftsmanship and beauty of the spiritual inspiration of traditional African sculpture is recognized by preeminent museums, scholars, and collectors around the world. “It is uncommon for Middle Tennesseans to be offered the chance to view  such a large  number of high-quality African sculptures in a single setting. “We hope that our community will take advantage of this unique opportunity, which will only be available at the State Museum for six short weeks,” said the museum’s Executive Director Lois Riggins-Ezzell.

“My passion for African art collecting began 22 years ago when I purchased my first piece from a small gallery on the Left Bank during a visit to Paris. I have been enthralled ever since,” said Jon Draud.

Approximately 20 years ago he met a great friend and mentor, Mark Eglinton, a dealer and collector based in New York City. The two are currently publishing a book about the collection.

“The book and collection are both focused around phases of life including birth, maternal child bonding, rituals related to adolescence and coming of age, and then, finally, pieces which relate to death and the afterlife,” according to Draud.

The book, Transformations: The African Art of Change, will be available at the State Museum Store beginning on July 12. The exhibition will be on view through August 12.

Above right: Echawokaba (helmet mask). Bembe, eastern Congo (present Democratic Republic of the Congo), first quarter of the 20th century.
Wood and natural pigments

Above left: Medicine Figure. Luba, southeastern Congo (present Democratic Republic of the Congo), 20th century. Wood, beads, and grass cord

For more imformation contact Mary Skinner at mary.skinner@tn.gov

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