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African Art

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Artwork Details


Mende Artist, Sierra Leone


Late nineteenth–early twentieth century


Wood and raffia

Accession #



18 x 13 inches


Currently Not on View


This Mende mask is a source of inspiration to Atlanta-based artist Radcliffe Bailey as revealed in his recent exhibition Radcliffe Bailey: Memory as Medicine. In 2006, DNA test results informed the artist that, on his mother’s side of the family, his ancestors came from the Mende region of Sierra Leone and nearby areas of West Africa. This information inspired Bailey to create a diminutive “family portrait”—an ink drawing of a Mende mask framed within a velvet-lined tintype case. More recently, Bailey printed the image of this Mende mask in full color on a steel plate, positioning the actual mask to be reflected onto its surface. This installation juxtaposed the ancestral world and the present day, collapsing the confines of time.


Gift of Bernard and Patricia Wagner

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