Gallery Talk: Art for Mami Wata at the Stanley Museum of Art

Gallery Talk: Art for Mami Wata at the Stanley Museum of Art promotional image

The Stanley Museum of Art presents a gallery talk on art for Mami Wata by Cory Gundlach, curator of African art.

The talk will focus on sculptures by Nigerian artist Joseph Chukwu and Ghanaian artist Eric Adjetey Anang now on view in "History is Always Now,” an exhibition that Gundlach curated for the Stanley Museum’s inaugural installation.

This talk is in conjunction with the premiere of the film Mami Wata at FilmScene on Oct. 20, 2023.

Gundlach will explore the historical contexts surrounding Chukwu’s and Anang’s representation of Mami Wata, and artistic relationships between these artworks and other images of the water spirit throughout the African Diaspora.

Often depicted as a beautiful woman with the tail of a serpent or fish, Mami Wata is both revered and feared, as she is believed to have the power to grant wealth and prosperity, but also to inflict misfortune and death.

Chukwu’s depiction of her responds directly to a print-advertisement from India for “human zoos” that were common from the late 19th to mid-20th century. Anang’s life-sized representation of the water spirit takes the shape of a figurative coffin, which belongs to a larger artistic tradition of sculpture from southern Ghana pioneered by his grandfather in the mid-20th century.

We encourage you to view the film Mami Wata at Film Scene before or after the gallery talk for a deeper understanding of Mami Wata and her global manifestations.

This gallery talk is free and open to the public. No registration is required.

Sunday, October 22, 2023 12:15pm to 1:00pm
Stanley Museum of Art
160 West Burlington Street, Iowa City, IA 52242
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Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Kimberly Datchuk in advance at 319-335-1727 or