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Want to know a bit more about the artists featured in our exhibitions?

As part of programming for the Earth Matters: Land as Material and Metaphor exhibition, the National Museum of African Art is conducting live public interviews with featured artists via Twitter. Followers of the conversation are invited to ask questions of the artist and learn more about their processes and goals.
Interview with Dawit Petros, June 7, 2013



NMAFA: Welcome! Today we're chatting w/ #earthmatters artist @dawitlpetros.

NMAFA: "A Total Instance of Reflexivity" is the (short) title of @dawitlpetros' work in #earthmatters exhibit.

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros Can you tell our followers a bit about the inspiration behind the piece in #earthmatters?

DP: @NMAfA blackmirrors-landscape viewing devices used by artists to transcribe landscapes 18th-19thc, minimalist sculpture and land art

DP: @NMAfA geography of east africa-specifically the Rift Valley, and personal history

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros Why did you choose plexiglass as your medium for this piece? #earthmatters

DP: @NMAfA black plexiglass has few functions: "withholds" information that the photographs offer, becomes a mirrors onto which viewer's process

DP: @NMAfA of looking is inscribed, viewer's reflection locates them in physical framework of African histories.

Follower:: @dawitlpetros @NMAfA what is/are your favorite piece(s) in #earthmatters aside from your own? Why?

Follower:: @dawitlpetros @NMAfA (how) do you feel they compliment your own work?

DP: @NMAfA El Anatsui and Ghader Amer's earthworks. The framing of earth works within an African context is one that informs my project.

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros What impact do you think your upbringing in #Eritrea & beyond in E. Africa had on your development as an artist? #earthmatters

DP: @NMAfA Living as an African subject in the diaspora has encouraged me to reflect on the predicament of the Afriacn artist as both a producer

DP: @NMAfA and a thinker of forms and as an interpreter of contemporary African subjectivity?

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros What meaning does the exhibit's theme, #earthmatters, hold for you?

DP: @NMAfA That our entire existence is intricately linked with our place on this earth. That it is impossible to have a sense of ourselves as

DP: @NMAfA individuals and communities unless we take into consideration the larger home-earth-that we inhabit

NMAFA: Well said! @dawitlpetros "Impossible to have sense of ourselves as indiv/commun. unless take into consid. the home- Earth -that we inhabit"

NMAFA: For those who haven't visited #earthmatters, @dawitlpetros' piece includes landscape images that can only be seen at a close distance.

DP: @NMAfA the landscape images are the rift valley-a geological formation that runs the length of east africa

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros How do you typically begin a photograph or a photo-based work-- or a work in general? #earthmatters

DP: @NMAfA It depends on specific project. Usually research and travel to particular locations that have either a symbolic or personal

DP: @NMAfA significance. then co-allate research and writing, begin making sketches, drawings then find the metaphor, the poetic for the work

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros How has your work/practice as an artist changed over time? #earthmatters

DP: @NMAfA The work has become more economical, less dependent on representational imagery and more focused on abstraction, colour.

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros What do you want viewers to discover in your works? #earthmatters

DP: @NMAfA I am less concerned with any grand discoveries and more with viewers questioning their preconceived notions about various things

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros What projects are you currently working on? Is the theme of Earth & its role in our lives carried forward? #earthmatters

DP: @NMAfA I am completing the Chrome series (2009-2013), which is s composed of photographs, wall murals, and sculptures.

DP: @NMAfA These works explore the urban localities of Addis Ababa and Dakar through the structure of modernist legacies--the grid and the

DP: @NMAfA monochrome--as paradigms of the quest for color and form.

DP: @NMAfA The theme of earth is a consistent undercurrent in all my work-the examination of particular sites in every projects occurs within

DP: @NMAfA an awareness of a larger physical space.

DP: @NMAfA I am preparing for my first solo museum exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in October 2013.

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros What artists/photographers have inspired you most in your work? #earthmatters

DP: @NMAfA I draw influence from artists such as Isaac Julien, Glenn Ligon, Yinka Shonibare, Magdalena Campos-Pons

NMAFA: @dawitlpetros As we close out our chat- would you leave followers w/any final words abt #earthmatters- as a theme or exhibition!

DP: @NMAfA Art operates around a shared responsibility of dialogue between an art object and audience so please go and engage the works.

NMAFA: A big thanks to @dawitlpetros for chatting with us today! See his work, & many others, in our #earthmatters exhibit: http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/earthmatters/index.html



Interview with George Osodi, October 23, 2013



NMAFA: Hello all & welcome to our interview w/#earthmatters artist @gosodi! We'll be chatting about his work in & themes of the show @smithsonian

NMAFA: @gosodi's work in the show is titled De Money Series no. 1, seen here: #earthmatters pic.twitter.com/aD31MuIPVe

NMAFA: Followers: Feel free to jump in and ask Qs at any point, and use #earthmatters tag to follow the conversation!

NMAFA: Getting started- @gosodi Can you tell our followers about the inspiration behind the piece in the show- De Money Series No. 1? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA As a photographer, i have always loved documenting through photographs issues and realities that deserves change in the modern day

GO: @NMAfA Africa though i may not be able to make the change but i feel that through photography which i believe is a powerful tool one could

GO: @NMAfA create documents and records that will graphically illustrate the dangers associated with this act of illegal gold mining known as

GO: @NMAfA as galamsey in Ghana a country very rich in mineral resources and one of the biggest suppler of gold globally.

NMAFA: If you're just joining, we're chatting w/#earthmatters artist @gosodi about his piece: pic.twitter.com/tmqR9PVReK

NMAFA: @gosodi You talk abt your role as photographer in documenting issues- How do you typically begin a photo or photo-based work? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA It all depends on the mood. I typically would prefer to approach a photo based work from a project point of view that will mean that

GO: @NMAfA their most be a statement i am planing to carry across through my photography. I photograph my subject with dignity irrespective of

GO: @NMAfA the situation i try as much as i can to represent a subject in such a manner that looks attractive to the viewer putting aesthetics

GO: @NMAfA first by so doing the viewer is subjected to take a closer look at the situation and hopefully grasp and take part

NMAFA: @gosodi Do you feel your work/practice has changed over time? If so, how? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA No not at all my photography style hasn't changed except that i try to photograph more on a slow pace as against fast pace that i

GO: @NMAfA use to in the past probably for the fact that i am growing matured and getting old too as you are aware photography could be very

GO: @NMAfA tedious as it requires a lot of mental and physical energy and time

NMAFA: Energy required-absolutely. @gosodi What impact do you think yr upbringing in Nigeria has had on yr development as an artist? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA First i feel i am very proud to have come from Nigeria, to me Nigeria is a country of paradox there is so much happening at a time.

GO: @NMAfA I grow up in a country that is so diverse in culture and rich in both human and natural resources.

GO: @NMAfA these factors alone could form a base for both positive and negative realities to arise and this form the backdrop for my creative

GO: @NMAfA ability especially having noticed while growing up as a young man that most of our past was documented photographically by foreigners

GO: @NMAfA who then had a better opportunity but i belong to a new generation of photographers that want to create a photographic record of our

GO: @NMAfA dear Africa and the rest of the word from our perspective for change and posterity

NMAFA: "Most of our past was documented by foreigners" - @gosodi , on his work and creating a "new record of Africa" #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA Africa is home to me

NMAFA: @gosodi What meaning does the exhibit's theme, #earthmatters, hold for you?

GO: @NMAfA To me, Earth is the World and the World is Nature. This brings me to the fact that there is a supernatural being that has created

GO: @NMAfA the world with the quest to make it a loving and a good place for all to live. The world is a chemical world and all that dwell in it

GO: @NMAfA are regarded as matter; hence we all occupy space on the face of the earth. I see the world as a vicious circle and this to me implies

GO: @NMAfA all matter, including humans, have a specific purpose and life-span. Having lived with this notion as my rational self has come to

GO: @NMAfA understand the world, I think that the earth deserves to be protected, knowing well that this place is home for all. I have always

GO: @NMAfA seen and believed in photography as an instrument for change, even though, as a photographer, I personally may not be able to change

GO: @NMAfA subjects, especially in the contemporary sub-Saharan African landscape which i hope will be the next destination for hope someday

NMAFA: Well said! @gosodi: Earth needs to be protected as home for all; photography is one instrument of change #earthmatters

NMAFA: @gosodi What- if anything- do you want viewers to discover in your works? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA I work with so much passion sincerity love. I want people to look at my work from the aesthetics point of view but to see "change

GO: @NMAfA There is always something i what to say when ever i embark on a project. People should take a deep look to my work and be affected

GO: @NMAfA and expect to be connected in other to bring about change

NMAFA: @gosodi Let's take our submitted Q, RT @LanaeSpruce: When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA i realize i was going to be an artist in my early days as a young boy probably at age 12 but i did not have

GO: @NMAfA the will power then until i became adult

GO: @NMAfA also growing uo in Benin city in Nigeria was of great use being one of the major cultural cities in Ngr. and hanging with artists

NMAFA: Earth Matters artist George Osodi is taking your questions on his work in the show, right now. Include @NMAfA #earthmatters in your tweets

NMAFA: @gosodi What artists/photographers have inspired you most in your work? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA I have been inspired by a lot of artist some of which include Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Michael Jackson,Irving Penn,henri cartier bresson

GO: @NMAfA these are a few of many that i have looked up to and their work has helped shaped my inspiration

NMAFA: We're almost at the end of our interview with @gosodi- followers, if you have any Qs, ask now! #earthmatters

NMAFA: @gosodi What projects are you currently working on? Is the theme of Earth and its role in our lives carried forward? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA at the moment i am workin on a new project called the Nigeria Monarchs see details on http://www.nigeriamonarchs.com

NMAFA: Wonderful! @gosodi - do you have any closing words for our followers? #earthmatters

GO: @NMAfA i am happy to appeal to people in places of power to sometimes take a break and look at works of creative artist

GO:@NMAfA and find a way to connect with the message being passed by some artist that desire a better world

NMAFA: That's it for today's chat-- a very big thank you to our friend @gosodi for chatting with us about his work & #earthmatters

NMAFA: You can check out his work & many others by visiting our #earthmatters exhibition before it closes in December: http://africa.si.edu/exhibits/earthmatters/index.html

GO: @NMAfA the world deserve to be respected and treated with care and good governance from all

Interview with Ghada Amer, August 9, 2013



NMAFA: Hello all and welcome to our interview with #earthmatters artist @Ghada_Amer! We'll be chatting about her works in/themes of the show.

NMAFA: For those unfamiliar, @Ghada_Amer has two works in #earthmatters: 1. A Garden installation titled "Hunger"

NMAFA: And her 2nd work in #earthmatters is a collaborative piece w/Reza Farkhondeh titled "We Are Destroying Planet Earth"

NMAFA: We're going to get started w/a few Qs- Followers, if you have any Q's, include either @nmafa or #earthmatters in tweets & we'll get to them!

NMAFA: Let's get started! @Ghada_Amer, can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind "Hunger"? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA I was invited to make a Garden in the lush grounds of the Smithsonian, but being in Washington

GA:: @NMAfA I was more reminded of the political ground

GA:: @NMAfA and I was thinking about the countries and people who depends on the US aid to survive.

GA:: @NMAfA that is how I got the idea to make a "political" Garden: Hunger

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer How do you typically begin a piece--particularly an outdoor piece like Hunger? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA it is very important for me to see first the physical space.

GA:: @NMAfA then I start to ask myself where is the piece going to be? who are the people living there

GA:: @NMAfA and who are going to see it.

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer With Hunger, you planted a Garden of rice. How will the Garden evolve and when will it be harvested? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA it was very important for me to get a crop, and to make an event with it after I harvest

GA:: @NMAfA harvest will be sometime late September or October, depending on the weather.

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer Can you now tell us a bit about the inspiration behind "We Are Destroying Planet Earth"? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA This work is in collaboration with Reza Farkhondeh who is an iranian american artist

GA:: @NMAfA It is part of a series we did from 2005 to 2007

GA:: @NMAfA everybody has a responsibility in destroying our planet.

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer What meaning does the exhibit's theme, #earthmatters, hold for you? @smithsonian

GA:: @NMAfA @smithsonian earth matters has a beautiful title and very much self explanatory because

GA:: @NMAfA @smithsonian earth does matter to me!

NMAFA: "Earth matters to me": @Ghada_Amer. Followers--in what ways does the #earth matter to you & impact your lives?

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer What impact do you think your upbringing in #Egypt had on your development as an artist? #earthmatters #africa

GA:: @NMAfA Egypt has inspired me all along

GA:: @NMAfA it is a country that lives in me

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer What was your relationship to "earth" and the landscape in #Egypt? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA One of my favorite landscape is the desert, it makes me very calm

Follower:: @nmafa @Ghada_Amer Have always loved your embroidered paintings. In what ways have themes in those works continued in #earthmatters?

GA:: @KMAugustine @NMAfA I have always used different medium but I am only known for my embroidered work

GA:: @KMAugustine @NMAfA But my embroidered works are very political, so are the works at earth matters

Follower:: @Ghada_Amer @NMAfA True. But I still pick up on issues of the feminine, love, wildness & respect. Your use of both media feel connected 2 me

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer Your previous work has come up in conversation. How has your work changed over time? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA I do not know if my work has "changed" over time.

GA:: @NMAfA I can feel that only now (after 20 years) I can really paint with embroidery

GA:: @NMAfA It has become mature, it did not change.

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer Interesting- What are the "constants" in your work? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA One constant is women, desire, love and loneliness. The other one is wars and the human condition.

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer What artists have inspired you most in your work? How have other female artists influenced you? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA My first inspiration was Matisse (I grew up in the South of France)

GA:: @NMAfA Fernand Leger as well.

GA:: @NMAfA I was only aware of the "female" artist in the 80's.

GA:: @NMAfA Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer and Katarina Fitsch

GA:: @NMAfA These three female artist were an eye opener to me

Follower:: @Ghada_Amer @NMAfA That was a pretty powerful period. Does Ana Mendieta's works relate to your pieces in the natural environment as well?

GA:: @KMAugustine @NMAfA I was aware of Ana Mendieta works only when I moved to the US

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer (If anything) What do you want viewers to discover in your works? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA I want the viewer to feel inspired when they look at my work.

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer What projects are you currently working on, outside of #earthmatters?

GA:: @NMAfA I am working on my solo show in New York at Cheim&Read. opening in the next spring

NMAFA: @Ghada_Amer What--if any-- are the themes that the new show be dealing with? #earthmatters

GA:: @NMAfA women as usual:) but I do not like to explain in advance, people has to see. I am a visual artist after all!

NMAFA: Many thanks to #earthmatters artist @Ghada_Amer for chatting w/us today. Visit @NMAfA & check out the #earthmatters exhibit to see her works

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