Distinguished African Art Scholar Visits Willamette

Pamela McClusky, one of the foremost African art historians in the country, will deliver a free lecture on Yoruba art and thought at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 in the Paulus Lecture Hall at the Willamette University College of Law.

The lecture is in conjunction with the Hallie Ford Museum of Art exhibition Yoruba Sculpture: Selections from the Mary Johnston Collection, on display through March 16. The exhibition features ritual objects from the Yoruba people of West Africa.

According to McClusky, Yoruba art is filled with ashe, or "the power to make things happen." In performances, masqueraders called Egungun, or "beings from beyond," enact movements that no one can explain. Gelede masks are worn to enact parodies of different personalities. In sculpture, the Yoruba depict a wide array of deities that are akin to those of the ancient Greeks. In her lecture, McClusky will discuss these traditions and describe how Yoruba rituals still thrive in Western Nigeria as well as Brazil, the Caribbean, London and even New York.

McClusky has published extensively about African art and has organized numerous exhibitions on the topic. While a graduate student at the University of Washington, she discovered African art in the basement of the Seattle Art Museum and convinced the director to place the collection on view. In 1980, she helped establish the Department of African and Oceanic Art at the museum, and she has served as its curator since 1996. She also established a series of permanent galleries to house the Seattle Art Museum's collections of African and Australian Aboriginal art.

The Hallie Ford Museum of Art is located at 700 State St. (corner of State and Cottage streets) in downtown Salem near the campus of Willamette University. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The galleries are closed Monday. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors and students. Children younger than 12 are admitted free, and Tuesday is an admission-free day. For more information, call (503) 370-6855 or visit