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.

Kòmò Helmet Mask (Kòmòkun), 19th–mid-20th century, Guinea or Mali or Burkina Faso or Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, Komo or Koma Power Association, Wood, bird skull, porcupine quills, horns, cotton, sacrificial materials, 35.2 x 22.1 x 85.6 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Objects created by African artists often express, aesthetic, functional, and moral values all at once.


Detail, Helmet Mask, 19th-20th century, Sierra Leone, Moyamba region, Mende or Sherbro peoples, wood, metal, 47.9 x 22.2 x 23.5cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Masks like this represent a guardian spirit and allude to an idealized female beauty in Mende and Sherbro culture.

Helmet Mask

Detail, Lidded Saltcellar, Sierra Leone, Sapi-Portugese, 15th-16th century, ivory, 29.8 cm high (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Ivory saltcellars were objects created for trade: they were African made and intended for the Portuguese market.

Lidded Saltcellar

Detail, Linguist Staff (Okyeame), 19th-early 20th century, Ghana, Akan peoples, Asante, gold foil, wood, nails, 156.5 x 14.6 x 5.7 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Recent discoveries in southern Africa provide remarkable evidence of the earliest stirrings of human creativity.

Historical overview: to 1600

Google earth view of Africa, © Google
Over a thousand distinct languages are spoken in Africa, where over 680 million people make their home.

Peoples and cultures