Art World

‘Lhola Amira: Facing the Future’

FAMSF launches new contemporary African art program
Irmandade: The Shape of Water in Pindorama. PHOTO: SMAC Gallery; Lhola Amira

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco has begun a new program — the first of its kind — to interpret the museum’s permanent collection of African art through the lens of contemporary artists, who represent the artistic and cultural traditions of Africa, to explore the evolving nature and meaning of African art today.

The first of these featured artists is South African-born Lhola Amria. Her first solo U.S. exhibition at the de Young in response to the museum’s permanent collection of ancestor sculptures addresses the wounds of colonialism, and the healing of those wounds through indigenous African spiritual traditions and practices. In the spiritual portal philisa (a sacred space that honors ancestors, cleanses wounds, and fosters connection), Zinza Mphefumlo Wami, a site-specific, mixed-media sound installation, visitors are invited to enter the space and “be at rest with spirit.”

“IRMANDADE: The Shape of Water in Pindorama,” a single-channel video projection, is Amira’s response to the “woundedness” of not only descendant generations of enslaved peoples, but also of the environment throughout the diaspora. The healing ceremonial foot-washing depicted in the film recognizes those diasporic connections. “To heal ourselves, is to heal our ancestors, too,” says Amira.

“Lhola Amira: Facing the Future,” Tue.–Sun. 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m. through Dec. 3, $25, deYoung Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr., 415-750-3600,

–L. Majer

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