Undergraduates reimagine an African gallery at the Cantor Arts Center

Katherine Evers
Katherine Evers and her classmates reimagined part of the Cantor Art Center’s African galleries. (Photo: L.A. Cicero)

Visit the Cantor Arts Center to see how 12 undergraduates reimagined part of the center’s African galleries as part of a course taught by CATHERINE HALE, curator of the arts of Africa and the Americas from 2014 to 2016.

The exhibition, African Artists as Innovators, focuses on the artist as maker – an individual with concerns about society, the environment and his or her artistic inheritance. It prefaced the Cantor’s major reinstallation of many other galleries around Stanford’s art history curriculum.

It’s rare for undergraduates to redesign a permanent museum exhibition. But Hale believes that giving such responsibility to young people of the diverse backgrounds, majors and aspirations as took the course is key to making museums more relevant to more people today.

“I wanted to start a conversation with the Stanford community on how we exhibit African art,” said Hale, who now builds interdisciplinary arts programs as curator of the Creative Campus Galleries at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.

Among those participating in the class was AKUA ODUMA NYARKO-ODOOM, who is following a premed curriculum.

“I’d grown up seeing African art in my home and in the homes of relatives, but never really knew where to begin talking about it,” Nyarko-Odoom said. “Though this class does not align with my primary course of study, I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to take it because I learned so much.”

Also participating was KATHERINE EVERS, who hopes she and her classmates have created a gallery that welcomes visitors.

“Taking a closer look at everything from the language of the labels to the paint color, our class attempted to create a more welcoming African gallery … relevant to the Stanford community and reflective of the vibrant art scene in Africa today,” she said.

Visit the 125th anniversary webpages to read the entire story about the project.