Gods and Monsters

Treasures at the Carlos Museum
Statue

Twin Memorial Figure (ere ibeji)
Bamgboye school, Yoruba peoples, Nigeria
Late 19th-early 20th centuries
Wood, Beads, pigment
1994.004.794. Ex coll. William S. Arnett.

© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2006.

Human and divine, reality and myth come together in a rich display of works now on view at the Michael C. Carlos Museum.

Divine Intervention: African Art & Religion illustrates the traditional African belief that, through its creation or its use in ritual, a work of art becomes potent—filled with the power of the spirit and ancestral realms—and can effect change and transformation in the lives of humans. The exhibition features more than fifty works from some twenty African cultures, including masks, shrines, and other powerful objects: a hunter’s jacket from Mali covered with mirrors, talons, and other amulets believed to be imbued with nyama, or ritual potency, to empower and protect the hunter; and divining instruments thought to facilitate human communication with ancestors and spirits.

Monsters, Demons, and Winged-Beasts: Composite Creatures in the Ancient World, drawn from the permanent collections of the Carlos Museum and loans from private collections, explores a menagerie of mythological creatures from the Greek perspective. The Greeks borrowed imagery from Egypt and the Near East, developing a repertoire of richly imagined creatures that proliferated in the Greco-Roman world. From the seductive yet deadly siren, to the cannibal cyclops Polyphemus, to the winged Pegasus, to the fire-snorting Chimera, the show traces “monstrous” imagery through works in gold, silver, stone, terracotta, and papyrus.

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