Opening Reception for the exhibition “Whirling Return of the Ancestors”

January 24 – April 8, 2018

Opening reception: Thursday, January 25, 5 – 7 pm
Ruth Davis Design Gallery, Nancy Nicholas Hall
1300 Linden Dr., University of Wisconsin-Madison


Dr. Drewal's exhibition

The Ruth Davis Design Gallery hosts the exhibition Whirling Return of the Ancestors, a dynamic, multi sensorial exhibition of sights, sounds, motions … and emotions, January 24 – April 8, 2018, with an opening.

Reception Thursday, January 25, 2018, 5 – 7pm. The exhibition presents the rich and varied artistry of Egúngún masquerades and other arts inspired by a tradition that honors and celebrates the power and eternal presence of ancestors among Yorùbá peoples of West Africa. This connection between the living and the departed is expressed in a Yorùbá saying: “The world is a marketplace [we visit], the otherworld is home.” (Ayé l’ọjà, ọ̀run n’ilé).

Whirling Return of the Ancestors was researched, organized, and curated by students in the fall 2017 Art History Curatorial Studies-Exhibition Practice class taught by Evjue-Bascom Professor Henry Drewal. The project was developed in collaboration with the Ruth Davis Design Gallery in the School of Human Ecology (SoHE) and resonates closely with SoHE’s vision to inspire global intercultural experiences, reach new audiences, and welcome creativity through synthesizing research, outreach, and engagement.

Egúngún masquerades are collaborative family and community creations involving reflection, remembrance, and renewal. Such masquerade pageantry celebrates the spirits of ancestral hunters and warriors, legendary heroes and heroines, founding fathers and mothers, and a pantheon of uncountable deified ancestors (òrìṣà) – all of whom influence and guide the living.