In choosing these selections from Jim’s collection, we hope to have encapsulated the very essence of his vision. Jim Wilson has brought to the collecting of African art a larger statement, which he perceives as the true aesthetic. This approach integrates aspects of time, color, materials, music, and motion. Along with an object’s fine, and sometimes profound, sculptural values, he has collected the entire costume, which requires only animation to revive its original appearance. He wants to feel the spit on the piece, to hear the secrets whispered into the wood.
We hope this exhibition conveys that spirit; that it expresses a bit more than one expects to see in a show of African art. We hope it will communicate the excitement of the full tradition reflected through the variety of material, textiles, colors and forms; that it will convey the sounds of the music, the motion of the dance, and the feeling of the festival or court. He wants us to see the whole, and understand that sculptural form is just a part of something much larger.
It was work and fun putting this exhibition together. We explored new territory. It had many surprises and turned us away from conventional thinking, more toward Jim Wilson’s vision. “Through the Eyes of Our Ancestors” has opened our eyes a bit more, onto the complexities of African art and what makes it so captivating. Our exploration of its meanings and aesthetics has been and still remains an ongoing process.