Call and Response: Africa to America


Dear Laura and Friends,

Yesterday I attending this fantastic exhibit at the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art here in Charleston.  The gallery was filled with a dozen “Soundsuits” by Nick Cave, a dozen large scale photographs by Phyllis Galembo, and a video of a performance in the suits.  I was very glad they put the video with it because then we could hear the swish, crinkle, clang, and scrape as the Soundsuits moved.  I took my two young sons (8 and 6 years old).  The video was surprisingly humorous of these suits in action, and we found ourselves laughing out loud.   It is just hard to believe someone created such exquisitely hand crafted suits not to mention how dynamic they became once they moved.  It was a fabulous experience to share with the boys.

I also thought it was worthy of talking about here on our blog where our main intention is COLLABORATION and a sharing of resources.  These two artists- one finding inspiration from another- were a refreshing take on the potential artists can have together.

Here is a quick video of the artist, Nick Cave, speaking about his work followed by an excerpt from the Halsey show.  If you are in Charleston it will be well worth your time to see this.  If not click on the resources here for more information.


Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art (the following is copied from this website)

May 27 – June 26, 2010
Opening Reception: May 27th, 5 – 7
Exhibition Walk-Through with Artists: May 29th, 2 – 4

Chicago artist Nick Cave creates costume/sculptures that he calls Soundsuits consisting of brightly colored fabrics, elaborate embroidery, beadwork, raffia and natural materials. Phyllis Galembo’s photographic portraits feature masqueraders from the West African countries of Benin, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. Call and Response: Africa to America / The Art of Nick Cave and Phyllis Galembo pairs the work of these two uniquely American artists, each of whom explores the contours of West African masquerade through their art.  This exhibition highlights the role of ritual traditions within the formation of cultural identity.  While Galembo’s intriguing photographs document actual masquerade performers in elaborate “costume,” Nick Cave’s Soundsuits offer a poetic response incorporating a cornucopia of natural and cultural elements rich in associative possibilities.

The combination of these two artist’s work offers a powerful celebration of creativity, imagination, and cross-cultural communication. Call and Response:  Africa to America seeks to draw both the obvious and subtle parallels between the works of Galembo and Cave.

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3 thoughts on “Call and Response: Africa to America

  1. These are great T~
    I wish I could see them in person. Did you see them in a longer video or were they live? What did you guys find humorous about them? How long was the video? Inquiring minds want to know…xoL

  2. The video at the Halsey is not posted on Youtube, but the soundsuits that were funny had these bright multiple colors like you would see in a Dr. Seuss book dancing along with joyful African drumming. That juxtaposition make them playful and fun while others where a bit more serious. The video was only about 10 minutes. I don’t think the humor takes away from the depth this work has, I think it adds to it. Someone who can layer this much into artwork is really hitting it out of the park as far as I am concerned. How about you come here for a visit and see them Ms. Laura?!!! There is so much art I would like to see with you since we always have such good conversations.

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