?Women’s wall painting exhibit at Mather’s


The Mathers Museum director Jason Baird Jackson explains the paintings featured on the wall by artist Brittany Sheldon. The paintings are inspired by the women of Ghana who gather in celebration, singing, dancing, sharing meals, and painting murals on the walls. File photo and File photo

In the upper east region of Ghana, women gather together in celebration, singing, dancing, sharing meals and working together, all to paint walls.

The women, generally not well represented in art, are able to express themselves and create masterpieces during the hottest season of the year.

Brittany Sheldon, IU art history and African studies doctoral candidate, will open her photography exhibit of these walls, titled “State of an Art: Women’s Wall Paintings,” at the Mather’s Museum of World Cultures on Friday.

“They take real pride in their work,” Sheldon said.

Sheldon said she chose to research this topic more than three years ago, and after four trips to Ghana, she compiled a plethora of research, as well as a photography exhibit.

“This is the product of my dissertation research,” she said.

Sheldon’s exhibit will be in the museum for the entire academic year.

“I think it’s really striking art,” Sheldon said.

The exhibit features photographs from her dissertation field research on murals by women in Ghana’s Upper East Region.

In 2013, Sheldon said she worked with the museum to create the first version of the exhibit, which was later donated to the national museum in Ghana. She has been working on the updated version since May.

Sheldon said when she taught Introduction to African Art, most students came in with limited knowledge of the subject. They only seemed to know about Africa’s disease, war and poverty.

“Not much at all has been published about this in actual book form,” she said.

For this reason, Sheldon said she wants to spread knowledge about the art created in Africa, as well as the women behind it.

A reception for the show will take place at 4:30 p.m. Friday, where Sheldon will give a presentation on the show and her research.

Sheldon said she is grateful for the help she received from research assistants, mentors and the women who allowed her a glimpse into their lives.

“They have a lot of fun while they’re doing it,” she said of the women she observed and photographed.

She said she hopes this will be a way to bring new cultural experiences to the audience.

“I’d like people to know more about other parts of the world,” she said.

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