BUNDU – Sowei Headpieces of the Sande Society of West Africa
Location: QCC Art Gallery, Queensborough Community College
222-05 56th Avenue, Bayside, NY 11364
Exhibit Opening Reception : April 19, 2012 6pm – 9 pm
On view: April 19, 2012 - June 29, 2012
BUNDU - Sowei headpieces of the Sande Society of West Africa is the title of this exceptional exhibition and the scholarly book that accompanies it. The Bundu or Sande Society is a pan-African Association of women found among several West African groups in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. It educates and initiates young girls so as to enable them to assume their place in an adult society as wives and mothers and as social, economic, and political leaders. Entry into this society confers not only political power, but also introduces members to the association’s role in promoting wellness and treating disease. As a result, it is also a medicine society that employs both spiritual and physical therapies to help those in need, especially women and children.
The headpieces of the Sande Society, also known as sowei helmet masks, are unique in sub-Sahara Africa in that they are the only ones worn by women. This exhibition presents sixty sculptures that display the wonderful stylistic diversity of these masks among the Bassa, Gola, Mende, and Vai peoples of Africa.
The book that accompanies the exhibition is an outstanding ethnographic contribution to the understanding of this society and its sculptural expressions. This volume is authored by two Africanist scholars, Gavin H. Imperato and Pascal James Imperato, both with extensive field research experience in Africa.
The QCC Art Gallery, an educational and cultural resource for the Queensborough Community College, as well as for all New York City and Long Island communities, boasts a superb permanent African Art Collection that has already received critical acclaim from New York Times art critic, Holland Cotter who states, “Queensborough Community College has quietly assembled an impressive collection of African Art…with luck, other university galleries around the country will emulate it.” Over the years, the QCC has installed world-class exhibits of wide-ranging interests such as Post-Modernism paintings, Pre-Columbian Art, sculpture, photography as well as Chinese pottery and works of established and emerging artists.