LOS ANGELES, CA.-Fowler Museum at UCLA presents Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas through August 10, 2008. Beautiful and seductive, protective yet dangerous, the water spirit Mami Wata (Mother Water) is celebrated throughout much of Africa and the African Atlantic world. Often portrayed as a mermaid, a snake charmer, or a combination of both, she and a school of related African water spirits all honor the essential, sacred nature of water. Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporasa traveling exhibition debuting at the Fowler Museum at UCLA on Apr. 6, 2008explores five hundred years of visual cultures and histories of Mami Wata through a dynamic presentation of the wide array of arts surrounding hersculpture, paintings, masks, altars, and more from west and central Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, and the United States. The exhibition will be on display through August 10, 2008.
Mami Wata has been the object of my affection (and study) for more than thirty years. I guess I took to heart the words in a famous song by the Nigerian musician Sir Victor Uwaifo: If you see Mami Wata oh, never you run away! says guest curator Henry John Drewal, Evjue-Bascom professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and adjunct curator of African Art at the Chazen Museum of Art, UW-Madison.