University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
College of Fine and Applied Arts
500 E Peabody Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820
Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois presents World on the Horizon
World on the Horizon: Swahili Arts Across the Indian Ocean is the first major traveling exhibition dedicated to the arts of the Swahili coast and their historically deep and enduring connections to eastern and central Africa, the port towns of the western Indian Ocean, and, given their circulation within imperial networks of trade and diplomacy, to Europe and the eastern seaboard of the United States.
Located at the crossroads of Africa and the Indian Ocean, the Swahili coast has been a site of long-distance trade and migration for millennia. The exhibition offers audiences an unprecedented opportunity to view over 150 artworks brought together from public and private collections from four continents. Objects generously loaned from the National Museums of Kenya and the Bait Al Zubair Museum in Oman are making their debut appearance to North American audiences.
The exhibition is thematically organized and features objects recognized not only for their artistic excellence, but also for how they visualize wide-reaching networks of mobility and encounter. Ranging from intimate pieces of jewelry to impressive architectural elements, and including exquisitely illuminated Qu’rans, objects of regalia, and photographic portraits, to name just a few, Swahili objects embody multiple cultural histories and aesthetic trends that are themselves itinerant and open to interpretation. Thus, World on the Horizon powerfully attests to the Swahili coast as a vibrant site of global cultural convergence, and to Africa’s contributions to the artistic vocabulary of the wider Indian Ocean world.
The exhibition is on view at Krannert Art Museum August 31, 2017 through March 24, 2018, traveling to Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC May through August 2018 and Fowler Museum, University of California at Los Angeles September 2018 through January 2019. It is curated by Prita Meyer, assistant professor of Art History at New York University and Allyson Purpura, senior curator and curator of Global African Art at Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois.
September 7 | A History of the Indian Ocean World in Five Objects
Scholar lecture: Isabel Hofmeyr, professor of African Literature, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and Visiting Global Distinguished Professor of English, New York University presents “A History of the Indian Ocean World in Five Objects” in the KAM Auditorium, 5:30 pm. (Sponsored in part by the CAS MillerComm Lecture and Krannert Art Museum)
September 8 | Workshop: The Transoceanic Turn as Paradigm Shift?
Workshop featuring Isabel Hofmeyr, professor of African Literature, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and Visiting Global Distinguished Professor of English, New York University at the Levis Faculty Center, 919 West Illinois St., Urbana (4th floor), 12:00 pm. (Sponsored in part by the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities and Krannert Art Museum)
October 12 | Gallery Conversation: World on the Horizon
Visitors are welcome to join in the gallery conversation with Mauro Nobili, assistant professor of History; Rini Mehta, assistant processor of Comparative and World Literatures; Jenny Peruski, doctoral student in Art History; and exhibition curator Allyson Purpura, senior curator and curator of Global African Art at Krannert Art Museum in the East Gallery, 5:30 pm.
World on the Horizon has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. *
Additional sponsorship provided by the ADAA Foundation Curatorial Award and the Association of Art Museum Curators, College of Fine + Applied Arts Matching Funding Program, College of Fine + Applied Arts Creative Research Award, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Campus Research Board, and Krannert Art Museum.
*Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition or publication do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.