The Sacred Star of Isis and Other Stories, currently on view at The African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP), explores the tension between photographer Adama Delphine Fawundu family’s traditional Mende beliefs and Westernized values. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Fawundu is of Sierra Leonean heritage and her ancestors are Mende, one of the two largest ethnic groups in Sierra Leone.

Fawundu’s work blends traditional Mende fabrics and contemporary photographs, many of herself, creating images evocative of colorful, abstract dreams rooted in reality. The work calls attention to complex and distorted histories and “uncovers personal and universal cultural patterns that are present within herself and the African Diaspora,” writes the museum in a statement.

Occupying space in the same gallery is a show by Laylah Amatullah Barrayn called Focusing on the Baye Fall. Two years ago, Fawundu and Barrayn founded MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora, a publication committed to establishing and representing a collective voice of women photographers of African descent. The exhibitions at AAMP are co-curated by Barrayn and Fawundu.

Peter Crimmins of WHYY says that together the exhibitions provide “two ways to explore identity and spirituality in Africa, both seen through the lens of native-born Americans.” While Barrayn captures the colorful spirit of the Baye Fall, a Sufi sect of Islam in Senegal, Fawundu evokes the elusive spirit of Sierra Leone mysticism through patterns, masks, and scrims.”

The Sacred Star of Isis and Other Stories

The African American Museum in Philadelphia
Through May 12, 2019

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