African exhibit to open at WFU’s Anthropology Museum

By Pam Barrett
January 25, 2005

“Spirit Influences on the Arts of Power: The David and Karina Rilling Collection of African Art” will open Feb. 11 at Wake Forest University’s Museum of Anthropology. The exhibit, which explores how objects connected to the spirit world become essential to governing and decision-making in African societies, will run through May 21.

Spirit Influences on the Arts of Power:  The David and Karina Rilling Collection of African Art

The exhibit includes more than 40 African objects donated to the museum by David Rilling, a Pennsylvania physician and art collector, and his wife, Karina. The exhibit features objects associated with kingship from Cameroon and Ghana, including a brass throne and beaded crowns, as well as West and Central African objects related to ancestral leadership, such as masks and power figures serving as intermediaries between the living and the dead.

Three free public lectures are also scheduled in association with the exhibit. Simeon Ilesanmi, associate professor of religion at Wake Forest, will present “The Importance of the Ancestral and Spiritual Worlds in the Control and Legitimization of Authority in African Kingdoms” at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17.

On March 15 at 7:30 p.m., Yomi Durotoye, senior lecturer of political science at Wake Forest, will discuss Yoruba art and the questions that arise from defining African art as either “traditional” or “contemporary.”

On April 20, Victor Archibong, professor of political science at Greensboro College, will present “Traditional Political Structure in African Societies.”

The Museum of Anthropology is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (336) 758-5282 or visit

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