Christie McDonald, who edited a book on the American artist Anne Eisner and her paintings of the Mbuti, has helped produce an exhibition of Eisner’s works that opened on Monday at Harvard’s Houghton Library.
The book, and a still earlier journal article by Eisner, have both been reviewed in this website. The news release from Harvard indicates that McDonald has included Eisner’s writings as well as her art works in the exhibit, but it does not mention how many of the paintings are on display.
Eisner’s paintings of the Mbuti, starting in 1947 and continuing through much of the 1950s, are important because they take a different perspective from the famed writings of anthropologist Colin Turnbull, with whom she shared some of her research materials. In contrast to his attempts to provide an objective analysis of the Mbuti, Eisner was more willing to insert herself into her interpretations of their society, a result of her training and experience as an artist.
According to McDonald, Eisner learned a dialect of Swahili called KiNgwanna, and she lived for lengthy periods in the hunting camps of the Mbuti. She also helped raise three children who had been orphaned.
The press release mentions that the exhibit will be running until December 22. A symposium, which will include seven of the authors who contributed articles for the book Images of Congo, will be presented on Wednesday, October 11, from 4-6 pm in the Edison and Newman Room of the Houghton Library, where the exhibit is on display. It appears as if the symposium will be open to the public. The press release gives a contact phone number for further information.