Image: Dogon Peoples, Granary Door Lock, n.d. Carved wood with original nails, 7 5/8 x 9 5/8 x 1 5/8 in. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Gift of Mauricio and Emilia Lasansky and the Lasansky Corporation. 87.1.36
Cedar Rapids, Iowa— Functional, powerful, and magical – these are the properties that describe the pieces on display November 22, 2014 through July 26, 2015 in Guardians of Grain: Bamana and Dogon Door Locks at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (CRMA). On view for the first time in many years, this exhibition present the breadth and depth of Emilia and Mauricio Lasansky’s gift of 54 African door locks. Created by the Bamana (or Bambara) and Dogon peoples of Mali, wooden door locks used to be common on houses, vestibules, chicken coops, and especially granaries. Today they are rare, replaced by padlocks, discredited by Islamic practices, or sold for the growing trade in African art. These door locks are essentially reminders of a culture that has dramatically changed over the years.
Created to be functional with spiritual references, these door locks have a strong sculptural appeal for western art audiences, even when viewers do not know their original cultural context. Locks from the Bamana people were carved by skilled sculptors. These artists were respected because of their believed ability to channel the energy that can both help and harm people. The images were considered so powerful and meaningful that an apprentice could only create them if supervised by an elder capable of handling the spiritual powers. Thus, these locks were not carved just for their visual interest but to contain certain magical powers and many include references to creation stories through images of animals and human figures.
CRMA Executive Director Sean Ulmer commented, “These door locks – bold and powerful – are wonderful and engaging works of art. Made to be both functional and protective, they are fascinating pieces of sculpture which still speak to us today.”
This exhibition is made possible by the generous support of Members of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.
The mission of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art is to excite, engage, and educate through the arts. The Museum’s collection contains more than 7,000 works of art by hundreds of artists, including the world’s largest collection of works by Grant Wood. For more information on exhibitions or related programs call the Museum at 319.366.7503 or visit the Museum’s website at www.crma.org. Museum Hours: noon to 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, andSunday; noon to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday; 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Grant Wood Studio Hours: noon to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (April-December). For more information please visit www.crma.org or find us onFacebook or Twitter.