International "Confluences" Symposium at Mathers Museum of World Cultures

An international symposium exploring the work of William Siegmann (1943-2011), an Indiana University alumnus who was a leading expert on the arts of Liberia and Sierra Leone, will be held at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures on Saturday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Confluences: Museums, Ethnography, and Art in the Work of William Siegmann will feature scholars of Liberia from multiple generations and from diverse fields--museums, art history, ethnography--who knew and worked with him.

Siegmann was particularly associated with West African masking traditions and performance, with an interest not only in their aesthetics, but in understanding the cultural meanings and context of those arts. During his career he served as a curator at the Africana and National Museums in Liberia; the Museum of the Society of African Missions African Art (NJ); the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. He wrote extensively on Liberia and Sierra Leone, and on issues in museums and museum interpretation.

The symposium's morning session will feature brief, prepared remarks addressing the depth and breadth of Siegman's commitment to his work and to Liberia. Roundtable discussions will be held during the afternoon, exploring themes developed during the morning presentations. Symposium presenters and participants include will Henrique Tokpa, the President of Cuttington University in Suacoco, Liberia, and MacArthur Pay-Bayee, a Liberian Land Commission Consultant, who both served as museum interns to Seigmann. Tokpa and Pay-Bayee will address the symposium from Liberia, via technology provided by IU's University Information Technology Services. Additional participants include Daniel Reed and Ruth Stone, from IU's Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology; Chris Kreamer, Curator at the National Museum of African Art; Heinrich Schweizer, African Arts Specialist at Sotheby's; Mike Lee, photographer; Jeanette Carter, Liberian Land Commissioner; Fatorma Bolay and Joseph Ngafua Bolay, Liberian friends and colleagues of Siegmann; Lester Monts, University of Michigan ethnomusicologist; Indiana University Professor and Vice President Emeritus Patrick O'Meara; and Svend Holsoe, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Delaware.

The symposium, which will be facilitated by Ellen Sieber, Chief Curator of Collections, and Jason Jackson, Director of the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, will be free and open to the public, but pre-registration is requested. Please email museumed@indiana.edu for more information and to preregister for the symposium.

In conjunction with the symposium, the exhibit Photography from the Forest: Images by William Siegmann, will open at the Mathers Museum on March 7. The exhibit features photographs Siegmann took in Liberia over the course of two decades that reflect the role that Liberia played in his life, and the role he played in Liberia. The range of subjects and perspectives reveal the depth of his engagement with the country and its people, including abiding interests in both daily life and ceremonial occasions, and their side-by-side existence. The exhibit will be on display at the museum from March 7 through December 20, 2015.

Additionally, Visions from the Forest: The Art of Liberia and Sierra Leone, a major traveling exhibition developed by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts that features more than 70 objects collected by Siegmann, will be on display at the Indiana University Art Museum from March 8 through May 10.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the Siegmann Estate; the Mathers Museum of World Cultures; the Indiana University Liberian Collections/African Studies Collection, Indiana University Libraries; the Indiana University African Studies Program; and University Information Technology Services at Indiana University.

The Mathers Museum of World Cultures is located at 416 N. Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana. Admission to the museum is free. The museum's exhibition hall and Museum Store are open Tuesdays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, please call 812-855-6873, email mathers@indiana.edu, or visit www.mathers.indiana.edu.