Sanaa ya Makaratasi ~ African Paper Art: Process, Substance and Environment is based on the premise that paper itself is a form of art. The works on and of paper by artists from across Africa challenge common stereotypes of African art. Although many art forms in Africa derive from rich traditions of masquerade, wood carvings and beadwork, paper works are as much a staple of contemporary art production throughout Africa as they are in New York, Paris, Seoul or Tokyo.

The pieces assembled for this show range from studies for a final piece to lithographs and other medium originally intended for paper to works in which the medium itself is paper. Sketches and unfinished or spontaneous works capture the idea of African artistic creation in its infancy, thereby revealing to us what the artist was thinking about before editing, sanitizing and packaging the work for public consumption. Three-dimensional objects created from paper pulp demonstrate that paper is not just a surface on which other media are applied. Other works in the exhibit explore the relationship between paper-making and the environment, comment on climate change, and advocate environmental conservation.

Artists participating in the exhibit come from all over Africa and include some of the continent’s most promising talent. The inclusion of both emerging artists as well as those who are well-established provides a fresh perspective on African paper art. Africa has a long history of paper-making, and artists working on and with paper today contribute to the continuous evolution of this history.