posted March 17, 1999

Sobania and On-Line Exhibits

Neal Sobania, director of international education and professor of history at Hope College, is one of several collectors whose efforts are highlighted in two Web-based exhibitions of African art at Michigan State University.

          The first, "Ethiopia:  Traditions of Creativity,"
  is a Web version of an exhibition of Ethiopian art, for
  which Sobania co-directed research, held at the university
  in 1994.  The second, "African Connections:  Perspectives on
  Collecting Culture," features objects from the Michigan
  State University Museum's collection.
          "Ethiopia:  Traditions of Creativity" features the
  lives and work of 11 Ethiopian artists and artisans.  Each
  artist is highlighted through a profile that includes an
  autobiography; an essay on cultural context; a gallery of
  examples of the artist's work; a map that locates the
  artist's home in Ethiopia; and a list of suggested readings.
          The original exhibition ran at the university's
  museum from July 24 through December 16 in 1994.  Sobania
  was co-leader of a research team that spent April of 1993
  chronicling varied traditions of Ethiopian art, and
  collecting examples of each, for the exhibition and the MSU
  museum, and documenting those who make the objects.
          "Ethiopia:  Traditions of Creativity" is located
  on the World Wide Web at:  www.h-net.msu.edu/~etoc
          "African Connections:  Perspectives on Collecting
  Culture" celebrates the growth in the university museum's
  collection of African material culture over the last 10
  years.  The growth has followed both gifts of artifacts from
  donors and research-oriented field collecting.
          Information presented about each of the objects in
  the exhibition includes the name of the maker, ethnic
  affiliation, date of production, locale and country, media
  and the name of the collector/donor.  The site also includes
  background on the individuals who brought the objects to the
  museum, including Sobania for his role in the 1994 Ethiopian
  exhibition.
          "African Connections:  Perspectives on Collecting
  Culture" is located on the World Wide Web at:
  www.museum.msu.edu/museum/exhibitions/afcon/
          Sobania's interest in Ethiopian art began with his
  first visit to the country in the late 1960s as a Peace
  Corps volunteer, and has continued ever since.  His own
  collection of Ethiopian art was featured in an exhibition at
  Hope in the fall of 1992.