Transatlantic Dialogue:  Art in and Out of Africa
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Winnie Owens-Hart
American, born 1949
Twice, 1998–99
Earthenware mask, glazed and smoked
10 7/8 x 7 3/4 x 6 1/2 in.
Lent by the artist

After mastering salient Western ceramic techniques and tools, Winnie Owens-Hart traveled to Africa and visited Ipetumodu, a village of women ceramists in Nigeria. In 1979 she returned to the village for a year to study with the women and to learn the indigenous Yoruba techniques of handbuilt wares.

Pottery making is limited to women in Yorubaland, and the pots they make are among the few percussion instruments available to women, who are excluded from playing in the elaborate drum ensemble conceptualized in John Biggers' Drummers of Ede.

Twice combines elements of Yoruba handbuilt pottery with Ife naturalism. The base of the work starts as an Ipetumodu handbuilt pot and gradually flows into a vivid self-portrait, which in its calmness recalls naturalistic Ife terracotta heads. The reptile motif on the cheek recalls Yoruba pottery decoration while also suggesting a Ghanaian Andinkra symbol of two crocodiles sharing the same body.

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