While most of the patrons attending Walker Art Center’s First Free Saturday event on January 6th, 2007 will discover themselves immersed in world culture, many African immigrants may feel themselves returning to their roots. Attendees can take advantage of the wide array of planned activities presented by the Walker’s four-part performing arts series AfricaNOW: Currents of a continent.
Open to all at ten o’clock in the morning, visitors may browse through the art gallery taking inspiration from a collection of several artists who use scrap materials and debris from the streets to create original pieces. Once these concepts have had a chance to simmer, guests may move over to the Cargill Lounge to try their hand at drawing a hybrid African animal while playing the Exquisite Corpse, a game developed in the 1920s by a group of French artists called the Surrealists.
A common technique used by grade school art teachers, Exquisite Corpse incorporates the ideas of many into one piece. Each volunteer-artist will draw a part of the picture, but without seeing what the other artists have already drawn. Then the collage of the different parts of the animalis revealed as one whole drawing. Patrons will get another opportunity to create art in the Foundation Art Lab under Artist-instructor Ilene Drug Mojsilov. Mojsilov will lead participants on an artistic journey using recycled materials to fashion an original piece of sculpture.
American-born Nothando Zulu will present ethnic storytelling at various times throughout the day. Ms. Zulu, who is the President and Director of Black Storytellers Alliance, will share African and African-American folktales. For thirty years she has shared stories that bear witness to her African-AmericanSouthern rural roots.
Two live performances by West Africa immigrant Yawo Attivor, will take place in the Cinema. Yawo’s music reflects the traditional Ewe tribe sounds from his youth as well as influences from western culture. The result is a stimulating mix of Afrobeat, Arofunk, and Reggae. His performances will be at eleven in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Offering several diverse engagements, one could easily spend their entire day at the Walker Art Center. Interspersed with the other events will be a showing of three animated and live action shorts that reflect the lives and experiences of African children. Amal, The Big Race and Twins of Mankalawill be shown in the Cinema.
Amal, a 17 minute long feature directed by Ali Benkirane, is his first short fiction film. The story revolves around Amal and her little brother who go to school in a rural village in Morocco. Amal dreams of becoming a doctor and plays with a real Stethoscope, listening to the heartbeats of her family. One day her father decides that Amal will not go back to school and will not change his mind. With no other option, Amal gives her beloved instrument to her little brother. This film has been selected for several international festivals.
The Big Race centers around two young boys from Madagascar, Tulch and Noel. In five minutes, director Phil Aupperle, presents this film that shows how a tin can and a little imagination can provide for a fun adventure.
Jason DaSilva directs the last film, Twins of Mankala, a documentary that traces the lives of a pair of Kenyan twins living in Massachusetts along side a child born and living in Kilo, Kenya. The 12-minute film examines culture and place through the subjects’ eyes.
The Walker Art Center is located at 1750 Hennepin Avenue (where Hennepin meets Lyndale) one block off Highways I-94 and I-394, in Minneapolis.