Arts & Culture

The Art Gallery (TAG) at UWF presents “Cultural Commodities: The Transformation of African Spiritual Objects”

The Art Gallery at the University of West Florida presents “Cultural Commodities: The Transformation of African Spiritual Objects” from Oct. 4 through Oct. 27. A reception will take place on Thursday, Oct. 4 from 5-7 p.m. and a panel discussion on Oct. 11 from 5:30-7 p.m. The UWF College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, UWF Equity & Diversity and the Askew Institute of Multidisciplinary Studies sponsor the panel discussion. It is also funded in part by the John C. Pace Symposium Series. The exhibition is a collaborative partnership between the Pensacola Museum of Art and TAG at UWF, located in The Center for Fine and Performing Arts, Building 82.

Through the display of craft works, statues and art pieces originating from several African art markets, this exhibition on loan from the PMA, delves into a series of questions, arguments and issues surrounding the problematic, traditionally Western viewpoint applied to nineteenth and twentieth century African art. At its foundation lies a deeply misguided understanding for this most prevalent and economically driven African art market, named simply by contemporary art historians as “tourist” art.

In this exhibit, we aim to further explain the “decolonization gesture” within African society and justify the cultural authenticity of works created as a result of redefined national identities within African culture. These objects demonstrate how replicas or reimagined works are no less authentic but are, in fact, extensions of the originals, carrying forth their symbolic value, cultural importance and visual experience to new audiences. Viewers will also be forced to ask themselves crucial questions about the tourist art market: What does it mean to be a tourist? Why do we buy and make art? What constitutes “fake” or “authentic” art?

TAG is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from Noon to 4 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. For more information, visit our website at or contact Nicholas Croghan, Gallery Director, at or 850.474.2696.