"Kente Strip-Woven Cloth: Its Significance on Both Sides of the Atlantic"
Babatunde Lawal, Professor of Art History, Virginia Commonwealth University
Having sat through a handful of weekly 2 1/2 hour lectures given by Professor Lawal on the history of African art, I have really learned to appreciate the way he delivers each sentence (or 3-5 word fragment) with unequalled enthusiasm. It's almost inspiring to hear him express information that he's been teaching for years as if they're bits of information he's just been amazed by for the first time. That's why I was so disappointed to hear him say that, in the interest of time, he would be reading a brief(er) lecture on the history and significance of Kente cloth.
I was glad to hear him addressing a crowd of adult attendees much in the same way that he addresses his VCU class, and also to hear him use many of the same catechisms from class as well. He spoke about the socially constructed nature of the body and of dress, as well as the influence of visuality, culture-specific education of how to interpret symbols. The connections between African cultural activities and symbols to those of the African-American South(e.g. the Gee's Bend quilts) were of particular interest.