The Maroon peoples hold a special place in the history of Africans and their descendants in the Americas. Their enslaved ancestors escaped the coastal plantations of the Dutch colony of Suriname and established free communities, with whom the colonial authorities eventually negotiated formal peace treaties. The Maroons—or Fiiman (Freemen or Free People), as many prefer to call themselves—have long been renowned for tembe, traditional art forms including architectural designs, vibrantly hued textiles, and intricately carved utilitarian objects such as serving trays, combs, and canoe paddles. Drawn from the Fowler Museum’s permanent collection, the objects included in this exhibition exemplify the eye-catching use of color and geometric pattern that transforms items meant for daily use into works of art. A legacy of resistance and self-determination remains critically relevant for Maroons, as major economic, political, and social challenges in recent decades have significantly affected many aspects of life, including artistic practices. Nonetheless, tembe remains an important element of being Fiiman.
Fiiman Tembe: Maroon Arts from Suriname is curated by Jeremy Jacob Peretz, UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance, and Patrick A. Polk, Curator of Latin American and Caribbean Popular Arts, Fowler Museum at UCLA.