Q&A: Celebrate African and African American Art: Ethiopia

A child enjoys family day

In preparation for the upcoming VMFA Family Day event on Saturday, June 16, Natalie Feister, the museum’s Youth and Family Programs and Events Coordinator, answered a few questions about its Ethiopia theme and festivities, which include music and dance performances, vivid storytelling, and the opportunity to participate in collaborative projects such as a Community Independence Textile with the Elegba Folklore Society. For a detailed schedule of activities and vendors, please click here for the full event page.

Q: Why did your team select Ethiopia as this Family Day’s theme?

A: We actually begin our family day planning and theme/country selection years out. We take many factors into consideration when planning the themes or countries of focus. We consider our permanent collections and exhibitions, areas of K–5 study in Virginia, and population in the metro Richmond area.

Q: How did you come up with the sub-theme of “Independence and Freedom”? What’s the significance?

A: The focus on independence and freedom stems from Ethiopia’s distinction as the only African nation to maintain sovereignty during the colonial era and its role as a beacon for the African Independence Movement. It is also inspired by the Elegba Folklore Society’s Juneteenth 2018, A Freedom Celebration, taking place the same day at 3 pm at the Manchester Dock & Trail of Enslaved Africans. This year, the Elegba Folklore Society will facilitate a Community Independence Textile art activity at our Family Day event, Celebrate African and African American Art: Ethiopia.

Q: Which activity or performance do you think will be particularly interesting to the public?

A: It is our goal to make sure that each family day event is a fun and educational experience with a variety of interactive elements for guests of all interests and ages. We look forward to working with all of our performers, presenters, artist demonstrators, and community partners during each event!

Q: How do you plan on connecting this event and its theme to works in VMFA’s permanent collection?

A: Each of our art activities and community projects have specific ties to works in our collection. During Celebrate African and African American Art: Ethiopia, we will be doing a community project based on/inspired by Stadia III, a large painting by artist Julie Mehretu (American, born in Ethiopia). We have designed activities such as a metal pendant project based on Ethiopian Neck Crosses in the collection, and a make-and-take paper greeting card inspired by Wosene Worke Kosrof’s (American, born in Ethiopia) work titled, “My Liberty” (found in our 21st Gallery).

Celebrate African and African American Art: Ethiopia
Sat, June 16, 2018 | 11 am–3 pm | Museum-wide event
Free, no tickets required

See the Facebook Event Page.