|"Chapungu: Custom and Legend, A Culture in Stone" - VIRTUAL TOUR
2004-05-31 until 2004-10-31
Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver, CO, USA United States of America
DENVER-For the first time ever in the Rocky Mountain region, an exhibition of over 80 contemporary African
sculptures that celebrate the connection all humanity shares with nature, culture and art will be displayed at
Denver Botanic Gardens. "Chapungu: Custom and Legend, A Culture in Stone" presented by Wells Fargo is
the highly expressive contemporary stone art of African artists from Zimbabwe, many from the Shona Tribe,
who sculpt monumental creations from rock such as serpentine, verdite, opal, cobalt, springstone and granite.
Chapungu (pronounced Chä-poon-goo) is the Shona name for an eagle of great presence, a messenger of
the gods that symbolizes a protective spirit.
Over 80 sculptures, representing eight universally human themes, range in height from three feet to 11 feet
and weigh from 600 pounds to 6,000 pounds. They will be displayed in natural outdoor settings, including in
water gardens. Programming at the Gardens will include weeklong stone-carving workshops with Shona
sculptors; African music, dance presentations; storytelling; cultural gardening programs; tours; lectures;
educational programming for children, adults, families and more.
Zimbabwe stone sculpture is a profound, deeply human expression of the African people that transcends time
and space. Sculptors say their ancestors' spirits come in dreams and visions to reveal themselves in images
that dwell within the stone. These "voices in stone" can almost be heard through the awe-inspiring sculptures,
which tell tales of life in traditional and contemporary works of art. In this way, sculptors release life within the
stone and their spirits soar within the collective reality of the African people. Having visited the sculptures,
viewers leave with the startling realization that they have been blessed by the stones' varied and emotional
messages. As John Wilkinson wrote in Newsweek, "Shona Sculpture is perhaps the most important art form to
emerge from Africa in this century."
The art begins with stones quarried from mines in different parts of the country. Sculptors use non-mechanical
tools to craft stone. Due to the stone's hardness, chisels, hammers, punchers, tile cutters and metal combs
are essential, as is 60 to 800 grit emery paper. When the design phase is complete, sculptors polish their
creations with clear wax to bring out the stones' textures and natural colors.
"This is the most important exhibition of contemporary African art ever seen in the United States," said Roy
Guthrie, Chapungu Sculpture Park director and curator of the exhibition. "African art was abstract for centuries
before abstract was 'discovered.' Many of the great European artists were influenced by African art. And now
we're trying to show that there is vibrant contemporary sculpture in Africa."
Chapungu Sculpture Park has toured the sculptures internationally since 1962. Among its many destinations,
the exhibit has been shown at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, London; Sydney Opera House, Sydney,
Australia; and the Zoological Garden Museum, Frankfurt, Germany. In the United States, sculptures have
recently been displayed at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, AZ, Missouri Botanic Gardens, MO, Red Butte
Botanic Gardens, UT and Chicago Botanic Gardens, IL.
Below are some photos I took of the exhibition when I visited it, I hope you'll enjoy them! RAND
|Interesting use of a Dan mask. They
had this piece inside one of the
buildings as a center piece in a water