The development, promotion, and status of African art and African artists in twentieth-century Africa is linked to several stakeholders and agencies, including Western Christian missions. Fadhili Safieli Mshana, in African Artists under Mission Patronage, surveys how mission patronage of African artists influenced twentieth-century African art, presenting specific case studies of Oye-Ekiti Workshop (Nigeria), Cyrene and Serima missions (Zimbabwe), Grace Dieu and Rorke’s Drift missions (Republic of South Africa), Kungoni Center of Culture and Art (Malawi), and Nyumba ya Sanaa/NYS or “House of Art,” Bujora Mission, the Hernnhut Brethren of Urambo Mission, the Benedictine Abbey Ndanda, and Maneromango Lutheran Mission (Tanzania). Mshana considers the philosophies and policies of these missions, their approaches in training artists, the processes of knowledge exchange surrounding art-making and attitudes toward art, the role of visual traditions, the use of art objects, the status of artists, and the socio-economic climate of the cultures hosting the missions. He concludes that the artists and the missions that supported them made significant contributions to the history of contemporary African art.
Fadhili Safieli Mshana is professor of art history in the Department of Art at Georgia College and State University.
Introduction: Questions of Patronage: Artists, Missions, African Art
Chapter One: An Overview of Western Missionary Art Patronage in Africa
Chapter Two: Sister Jean Pruitt and Nyumba ya Sanaa (NYS)
Chapter Three: Father David Clement and Bujora Church in Tanzania: Sukumaizing Church Design to Spread the Christian Message
Chapter Four: Art Patronage Lessons from Abbey Ndanda and Maneromango Mission
Conclusion: Implications of Mission Art Patronage of African Artists
About the Author
Mshana contributes a valuable Tanzanian perspective to the scholarship on Christian-mission patronage of art in Africa, assessing and contrasting five influential art centers in Tanzania.
Mshana has taken an impressively deep dive into the often overlooked field of African Christian art. He reveals so much about the origins of missionary-based Christian art in Tanzania, and this book is a very appropriate and timely extension of my earlier coverage of this field in Nigeria.
This book provides essential reading in its exploration of the relationships among Christian church personnel, the visual arts, and African modernities. It is centered on twentieth century developments in Tanzania, including the encouragement of personal artistry, the use of local architectural and sculptural forms, access to international art-making technologies, and the development of local art schools and workshops. Moreover, the discussion situates these developments within the context of similar projects across southern and central Africa, and in Nigeria. This combination of original research and comparative discussion shows how Christian patronage has been an essential component in the histories of twentieth century African art and visual culture.
Mshana offers a valuable contribution to the all too scant scholarship on African Christian art in a generously illustrated volume that will enrich readers interested in religion, expressive cultures, and the many facets of cross-cultural missionary encounters.