Hempstead Turnpike, Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
Description: Curated by collections manager Kristy L. Caratzola, this exhibition showcases an extraordinary aspect of the HUM collections for the first time. The original exhibit offers a range of ethnographic artworks and objects created by members of the distinct regional communities of Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea, New Britain, Vanuatu, and the Kiriwina Islands located in the South Pacific. The selected works center upon ancestral figures, ceremonial masks, warrior shields, and ritualized practical objects crafted from natural materials sourced from sacred sites within the territory of each individual culture. The exhibit also includes sophisticated wooden sculptures carved and painted by revered artists, which serve to express complex ideological beliefs through stylized human and animal forms complemented with colorful, abstracted geometric designs. The vital connection between humans and ancestral spirits and their active role in providing guidance and protection is an essential concept shared among many Oceanic cultures and is a defining characteristic of Melanesian art.