These beautifully sculpted ibeji figures joined the collection in 2002. “Ibeji” is a term in the Yoruba language meaning “twins”: ibeji from “ibi,” meaning “born,” and “eji,” meaning “two.” The Yoruba are a major African ethnic group known for having an extraordinarily high rate of multiple births.
“Since in Yoruba traditional religion, each person is one soul in the long line of ancestral souls, twins are complex, sharing the same soul – but one of the two is thought to have the spiritual half of the soul while the other has the mortal half. Since there is no way to determine which has the mortal soul and which the spiritual soul, if one twin should die, a carving is commissioned to represent the deceased child. …[Carvings] are often well tended. The Yoruba people believe that this care and tending helps ensure the survival of the other twin.” (source)Also from the collection is the following photograph by Ulli Beier, from his Yoruba Children series. Depicted are two toddlers (not specified as twins) captivated by the two small ibeji figures standing at their feet.
Click here to see more ibeji figures in the collection.
image sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
This watercolor from the collection is one of my favorites. It’s by Richard Yarde, Professor of Fine Art at UMass – Amherst, and was gifted to the Mead in 2002.
To see more of Yarde’s work from the Mead’s collection, click here.
image source: One Man Band
This lovely print by Pablo Picasso joined the collection in 1956. It isn’t currently on view at the Mead, but a small collection of other sketches by the infamous artist are, alongside prints by his friend and rival Henri Matisse.
image source: Illustration for Vollard’s unpublished edition of Andre Suares’ “Helene chez Archimide”
This festive design for a 1930s ballet costume by Russian artist Lev Vasil’evich Zak (aka Leon Zack) joined the collection in 2001.
image source: Costume Design: Giselle, Ballet Russe, Paris 1930
The Mead’s fall exhibition, This Just In! Additions to the Collection from Pompeii to Today, is on view now through December 29. Included in the exhibition is the Mead’s newly acquired Roman sarcophagus, inscribed with a memorial poem for the two children it once held.
Also on view is an exquisite print by Albrecht Dürer:
Contemporary art by Jonathan Meese:
And so much more.
image sources: 1 / 2 / 3
A new exhibition opens today at the Mead! To Be At The Farther Edge: Photographs along the New England Trail/Barbara Bosworth features twenty photographs exhibited simultaneously at 9 different venues. (Each venue features a different work, or works, by the artist!) Learn more about the artist and the exhibition here.
image credit: Barbara Bosworth, Harry above Briggs Brook Falls, 2012
This charming sketch – Dear Anne, Momie Is Knitting a Little Sweater for Jean. It Takes Two Months. Daddy – by American artist George Bellows joined the collection in 1974. To see more works from the collection by Bellows, click here.
image source: Dear Anne
This print by the legendary Pablo Picasso joined the collection in 1962. It is one of 41 illustrations for a book “Gongora-Vingt Poemes” published in Paris in 1948.
image source: Gongora: Eight Poems. Plate XIV. 34
The following silkscreen prints from “Portfolio of Twenty Cities” by Japanese artist Risaburo Kimura joined the Mead’s collection in 1986.
More from “Portfolio of Twenty Cities”»
In this 1895 depiction of Gloucester, Massachusetts, the American Impressionist painter Willard Metcalf crafted an idyllic view of what was then the largest fishing port in the world. This celebrated painting came to Amherst as a gift from George D. Pratt, Class of 1893. -Elizabeth Barker, Mead Director, 2008
image source: Gloucester Harbor