Inscribing Meaning: Writing and Graphic Systems in African Art

b1416. Inscribing Meaning: Writing and Graphic Systems in African Art

Elizabeth Harney, Christine Mullen Kreamer, Mary Nooter Roberts, and Allyson Purpura

5 continents editions. 304 pp., hardback, 93/4 x 11 in. 248 colour ills. ISBN 88-7439-377-6. Co-edition with National Museum of African Art-Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. (Spring 2007) Exhibition National Museum of African Art- Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC April 2007. The volume explores the relationships between African art and the communicative powers of the language, graphic system and written word. It considers how myriad forms of inscriptions, text, and graphic expression have inspired African artists and empowered their works. The scripts encountered in this volume reveal the complexity of the African artistic practices through which the visual force and versatility of language, in its broadest sense, are realized. They are used for the beauty, plasticity and rhythm of their forms, or as vehicles to assert identity, contest authority, or embody the divine. Inscribing Meaning draws on a body of literature— art historical, anthropological, and philosophical—that explores the history of writing in world traditions, the relationships between oral and written communication, and notions of alternative literature in non- Western societies. The arts of Africa, from ancient to contemporary times, reveal Africa’s contributions to the history of writing and inscription system worldwide.


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