The Depiction of the Child in African Art, Past and Present

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Children in African Art, Past and Present is a blog around art and children. It is to promote the work of artists and artisans, who are making the world a better place for people of all ages. The blog was created to encourage the preservation of traditional arts, crafts and practices in the face of rapid cultural change. This blog will be working with children, youth groups and adults to explore more about African Art. We want to create a space for people to share their views on how we can preserve our roots and make sure that children learn about our past so that they may build a better future.


The purpose of this blog is to present a forum for the discussion of African art and its depiction of children.

It will also explore the diverse cultural and political contexts in which such images are produced.

We hope that this blog will stimulate conversation about art and children, about the way in which African art is produced, collected and exhibited, as well as the perceptions of children held by different cultures.

Towards that end, we encourage the submission of images pertaining to:

– traditional African child art (past and present)

– contemporary African child art (past and present)

– African children depicted in non-African contexts

We also encourage discussion regarding:

– issues of representation involving children and/or childhood

– themes involving childhood in contemporary society.

African children have been portrayed in art for centuries. Children have been appearing in African art, in various ways and roles, since before the beginning of recorded history. These depictions show a variety of styles, some more abstract than others. In this blog I will be drawing upon my own experience as an artist, as well as on my research into the depiction of children in African art.*

The study of children and their portrayal in African art is a rich and rewarding field of inquiry. The artworks themselves are often beautiful and inspiring, but also contain complex historical, social and political meaning. At the same time as these works serve as a visual record of how people interacted with children in the past, they can also tell us much about our contemporary attitudes towards children.

**For example, there are many different views expressed through artistic representations of children that are based on cultural conceptions of what sort of value or meaning can be attributed to them. **

In addition to addressing these broader issues that concern the representation of children within African culture, this blog will focus primarily on images created or used by artists from sub-Saharan Africa since 1970. Although my own work is concerned with issues such as these, it does so from a modern perspective–specifically that which has emerged from post-colonial

Art is empowering and educational. Many artists and educators are using art in the classroom to help develop the children’s self-image, creativity, and communication skills.

African illustrations have a lot of history behind it. The development of African art can be traced back to the early civilizations such as Egyptian and Nubian. The Egyptians, Nubians, and other early civilizations were greatly influenced by the African art they encountered. In fact, it is still present in their art today, thousands of years later.

In addition to being an avenue for communicating with others, art also helps children express themselves better. It gives them a chance to explore their own thoughts and ideas about the world around them. It can help them gain confidence in their own ability to create something beautiful or meaningful even if it isn’t perfect at first.

Many different types of media can be used for artistic expression including painting, drawing, photography, collage, printmaking and more. Artistic expression is not limited to just physical media however; music, poetry and dance are all also forms of self-expression that children may enjoy.

On this blog you will find articles about how artists use various media to help children express themselves as well as a few examples of student artwork from around the world. I

Through the mixture of different cultures in the world, art has always been a brilliant mirror of the way we live. In Africa, art is important as a way to communicate and be celebrated by people. Each piece that is made is stimulating in some way because it is personal to every artist or artisan who makes it.

The earliest known written reference to the phenomenon of rainbows comes from Chinese philosopher I Ching (ca. 1117–1162 BC). In his classic work “Shuo Feng” (“Discussions Relating to the Ch’i [Air] and Feng [Wind]”), he writes:

“When the light of the sun shines upon the falling rain, a rainbow is formed. By concentrating upon it, one can see a horse’s head, a carriage and a man.”

In this passage, I Ching describes a kind of optical illusion: the human capacity for imagining images within natural formations that are in fact random patterns of light and dark, or “chiaroscuro,” as the artist would call it.

Here, I Ching is not being metaphorical, but literal; he’s describing an effect that may be seen by looking at falling water through a prism. The water refracts (bends) the light rays, creating a lens-like effect that projects an image onto whatever surface happens to be beneath it. Thus when we look at rain running down a windowpane or on the surface of a puddle, we are seeing an upside-down image of whatever is happening outside.

…His point is that we may be able

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