Dr. Christa Clarke


About Dr. Christa Clarke

Dr. Christa Clarke is Senior Curator, Arts of Global Africa at the Newark Museum. Dr. Clarke has held fellowships at the Smithsonian, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Clark Art Institute, and teaching appointments at NYU Abu Dhabi, University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University, Rutgers University, Purchase College, and Drew University. She is currently a fellow of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University and President of the Association of Art Museum Curators.



One figure from a Pair of Diviner's Figures, Côte d'Ivoire, central Côte d'Ivoire, Baule peoples, wood, pigment, beads and iron, 55.4 x 10.2 x 10.5 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
The artistic enhancement of functional objects can reflect and reinforce an individual’s social status.

Art and the individual


Headdress, 19th–20th century, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yaka peoples, wood, cane, raffia, pigment, 45.1 x 61 x 54.6 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
In transitional periods, art objects are often employed to assist rites of passage and reinforce community values.

Rites of passage


Head of an Oba, Nigeria, Court of Benin, 16th century, brass, 23.5 x 21.9 c 22.9 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Art has always played a role in African politics—both in large kingdoms and smaller, village-based societies.

Art and politics






Illuminated Gospel
This 15th century manuscript is based on Egyptian Coptic sources, but its creators imbued it with local flair.

Illuminated Gospel








Detail, Crucifix, 16th-17th century, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Angola; Republic of the Congo, solid cast brass, 27.3 cm high (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
During its brief fling with Christianity, the Kongo kingdom merged western iconography with local aesthetics.

Crucifix (Kongo peoples)








Memorial Head (Ntiri), 17th century (?), Ghana, Adanse traditional area, Fomena, Akan people, 31.3 x 19 x 14.5 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Since the 16th century, Akan women potters have created ceramic heads to serve as the focus of funerary rituals.

Memorial Head (Akan peoples)


Head of an Oba, Nigeria, Court of Benin, 16th century, brass, 23.5 x 21.9 c 22.9 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Many forms of African art are characterized by visual abstraction or departure from representational accuracy.

Form and meaning