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Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas

The Fowler Museum at UCLA presents several events as part of the opening weekend of the Mami Wata exhibit, which runs from April 6 - August 10, 2008.

Saturday, April 05, 2008
5:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Fowler Museum at UCLA
(enter Westwood and Sunset Blvd.)
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Beautiful and seductive, protective yet dangerous, the water spirit Mami Wata (Mother Water) is celebrated throughout much of Africa and the African Atlantic. Often portrayed as a mermaid, a snake charmer, or a combination of both, she and the “school” of related African water spirits all honor the essential, sacred nature of water. Experience the debut of this multimedia exhibition and explore the visual cultures and histories of Mami Wata through a dynamic presentation of the rich array of arts surrounding her—sculpture, paintings, masks, posters, and more from west and central Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil, and the United States. Let Mami Wata beguile you as she has done to peoples across the globe for centuries!

Opening Night: Saturday, April 5, 2008 - 5 pm

Fowler OutSpoken Lecture:  Mermaids, Snake Charmers, Sirens and Saints: The Many Faces of Mami Wata

  • Join exhibition guest curator and art historian Henry Drewal for a pre-party lecture as he traces the history and evolution of water spirits known as Mami Wata. Drawing on art and imagery from Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil and the United States, Drewal identifies the many sources—African deities, European mermaids, Hindu gods and goddesses, snake charmers and Christian and Muslim saints—that have merged through the years to embody this celebrated figure of the African and African-Atlantic world.

6–8:30 pm  --  Members’ Opening and Preview Party

  • Dive into a vibrant nighttime undersea adventure, when the Fowler Museum is transformed into a beguiling, seductive world of larger-than-life sea creatures and mischievous water spirits. Celebrate the dynamic creative power of Mami Wata with surprises to tempt all your senses. Live music by world beat band ASHÈ. Sea-life inspired costumes encouraged!  RSVP now: 310/206-0306 or Not a member? Join online.

Opening Day: Sunday, April 6, 2008  --  12-5 pm galleries open

  • 1–4 pm Kids in the Courtyard: A Mermaid’s Tail
    Get ready for the April 19th festival Splash! A Celebration of Mermaids and the Sea by fashioning watery wear perfect for a merfolk masquerade at this free, drop-in art workshop.
  • 2–4 pm Fowler OutSpoken Panel: Mami as Muse
    The work of contemporary artists from Africa and the Americas demonstrates the power and continuity of Mami Wata as a source for creative inspiration. Visual artists Bolaji Campbell, Eve Sandler and Sonya Y. Clark, along with filmmaker Giovanni Savino, discuss their works in the Fowler’s current exhibition in this conversation led by curator Henry Drewal examining the relationship between Mami Wata devotion and artistic expression.

Not a member? Join online. Parking is available in lot 4; pay-by-space and all-day parking ($8) available.

Cost : Fowler Members Event -- RSVP now: 310/206-0306 or

Fowler Museum at UCLA310-825-4361

Sponsor(s): , Fowler Museum at UCLA

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