August 17, 2010 — Benjamin Ray, professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia and adjunct curator of African art at the U.Va. Art Museum, will lead a tour of the museum's exhibition "African Art: Beyond the Modernist Lens" on Aug. 28, from 2 to 3 p.m.
Derived from the museum's growing collection of African art, the exhibition examines the way African art is currently perceived and displayed in Western museum settings. Once considered fetishes, African traditional sculptures were displayed in 20th century galleries in a manner that appealed to Western notions of artistic elegance, abstract form and exotic appearance. In his lecture, Ray will clarify the African aesthetic values expressed in these ritual and quotidian objects, as well as the local meaning and use of the objects.
Benjamin Ray earned his bachelor of arts degree from Bowdoin College, and his master of arts and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. For the past 30 years his teaching and research have focused on the indigenous religions of Sub-Saharan Africa as well as African forms of Christianity.
A former fellow of the University of Virginia's Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, he is also the director of the Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive, a digital research project supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
"African Art: Beyond the Modernist Lens" will be on view through Dec. 23, and complements the visiting exhibition "Man Ray, African Art and the Modernist Lens" on view through Oct. 10.
The U.Va. Art Museum offers its Saturday Special Tours on the third Saturday of every month from 2 to 3 p.m. These tours offer the opportunity to join curators, scholars and docents as they explore a variety of focused topics related to museum collections and exhibitions.
Saturday Special Tours are free, and open to the public. For information, call 434-243-2050 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The museum is located at 155 Rugby Road, one block from the Rotunda.