Lesson 2: Efficacy and Action. Nkisi Nkondi: A Power Figure of Central Africa

Summary and Objectives

Central African power figures are the subject of students’ inquiry in this lesson. Introductory activities focus on a figure’s appearance and invite students’ analysis of its form and affective presence. Subsequent activities allow students to examine how works of art can be instrumental in conflict resolutions and arbitrations and how the meanings of a variety of forms can embody a sense of power for an individual. Students are introduced to the idea that the outward appearance of a work of art can contribute to its ability to work, that is, to have an active, efficacious presence in peoples’ lives. Students will

  • Carefully analyze a work of art, discuss its form and style, and then draw the work noting details of the objects added to it.
  • Discuss the notion of amulets and then create a work that has personal significance for them.
  • Engage in a discussion about arbitration and conflict resolution.

This lesson is part of the curricular materials developed to accompany the exhibition Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives. Although this and companion lessons are self-contained, each will be enhanced when used in conjunction with others in this resource. Addressing several lessons within each unit will facilitate the incorporation of the study of world arts and cultures into your curriculum.

The lesson is based on works in the first section of the exhibition called Art and Action. In this gallery works are introduced that served to make things happen. See “Unit One—Art and Action” for an introductory statement on the unit, along with some provocative “Questions for Thought,” and suggestions that will inspire the students to relate the unit to their own lives.

Images of objects to be shown to students may be printed as handouts (from within each lesson), viewed online at the Intersections web link http://collections.fowler.ucla.edu and downloaded from the curriculum page on our website.

In this unit the topics and lessons are
Lesson 1: The Role of the Artist. Crown for Yoruba Initiation by Jose Rodriguez, U.S.
Lesson 2: Efficacy and Action. Nkisi Nkondi: A Power Figure of Central Africa
Lesson 3: Beauty and Purpose. Capturing Beauty: Ikebana Baskets, Japan
Lesson 4: Encounters of Ideas, Time, and Place. Textiles of Southeast Asia

Related Exhibition