Do Clothes Make the Man?

Lurking in various first floor galleries of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or www.slam.org) are a few headless children at play. The fiberglass mannequins, captured in playful moments, are dressed in the colorful patterns of traditional African fabrics -- except the batiked garments were in fact produced in the Netherlands during the 19th century for the West African market. So if the clothing was originally Dutch but is now accepted as African, does the perception matter more than the reality? Artist Yinka Shonibare examines questions of national identity viewed through Colonialism’s fractured lens in his exhibition Mother and Father Worked Hard So I Can Play. Shonibare’s happy children hide gambol through disparate eras in the museum’s galleries collection, further confusing the issue of time and place. His sculptures remain on display through Monday, March 14, in five different galleries. Admission is free, and the museum is open every day except Monday.
Tuesdays-Sundays; Mon., July 5. Starts: Dec. 18. Continues through July 5, 2009

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