Happy Earth Day! Here at the National Museum of African Art, we will be celebrating and exploring the earth with the opening of our major new exhibit, Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor in the Arts of Africa.
To open this landmark exhibition, today on this blog we have a very special guest post, from the Smithsonian’s Secretary, G. Wayne Clough:
Earth Matters, a first-of-its kind exhibition of African art on the National Mall in our nation’s capital, is a perfect example of what the Smithsonian is uniquely able to offer America and the world—a thoughtful, thought-provoking, and timely exploration of our planet. Our scholars tell us we live today in the “Anthropocene,” or the age of humans. Through these colorful and compelling works, African artists invite us to explore what that means. What could be more relevant to us all? Especially in this time of global change, we all need to think about how we touch the Earth: what we take from it, what we leave on it. Earth Matters is a cross-disciplinary effort at the Smithsonian involving the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Gardens, National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. It is supported in part by our Consortium for World Cultures and our Consortium for Understanding the American Experience.
Secretary Clough (Photo Credit: Carl C. Hansen, Smithsonian)
My boyhood home was Douglas, Georgia. I grew up exploring and fishing in swamps like the Okefenokee. I paid my way through college working as a surveyor for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad Company out of Knoxville, Tennessee, travelling up and down the line from Cincinnati to Atlanta. It was hard work, but I learned to love the land even more. As an earthquake engineer, I have long marveled at, and respected, the power of Mother Nature. As the Secretary of the Smithsonian, one of the many joys of the job is seeing the world through new eyes, those of scientists, historians, educators and artists.
These African artists have much to show us. I invite everyone to explore and engage in all the Earth Matters programming here in our nation’s capital and also online. There is much to see and do. We have a wide variety of fun and educational offerings for learners of all ages. And we all need to learn more about our planet so we can protect it for this and future generations to enjoy.
And keep checking this blog for new guest posts every Monday, as well as insider looks at our archives, behind-the-scenes photos, and updates on the many exciting events and programs the National Museum of African Art will be hosting throughout the exhibit. We hope you will join us!
(Photo Credit: © Gryffindor, Wikimedia Commons)