Exhibitions

Ways of the Rivers: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta

May 19, 2002 to November 17, 2002

“Terrific objects, illuminating installation, refreshing viewpoint, excellent catalog—this UCLA Fowler Museum offering was the best show of the year.”
Los Angeles Times, December 2002

The Niger Delta is a unique river environment in sub-Saharan Africa that is home to many peoples and languages. Despite severe economic and political hardships, a convergence of cultures and art forms has thrived for centuries in this watery region of Nigeria. Emphasizing the importance of water and environment in daily and spiritual life, this major exhibition brought together a multicultural assemblage of large-scale masks, water spirit headdresses, warrior figures, puppets and ritual dress.

This was the first exhibition to comprehensively explore this unique region of Africa, known for its unrivaled shrine sculpture and masquerade. Through the monumental artwork as well as photomurals and video, the spectacle of Niger Delta festivals and regattas was celebrated as is the innovative confluence of styles and ideas. The more than 130 works of art on view communicated the power that rivers have to sustain, unite and inspire.