University receives donation of African art during holidays

Alusi Figures and Face Mask are both on display in the Spiva Gallery on campus through Feb. 12.

“Alusi” Figures and “Face Mask” are both on display in the Spiva Gallery on campus through Feb. 12.

Jessica MacIntosh

During the holiday break, Missouri Southern received a gift.

“I appreciate the interest and generosity of Guy Mace,” said Val Christensen, associate professor of art and coordinator of the Spiva Art Gallery.

More than 50 African masks and sculptures, dating back 30 to 40 years during the late 19th and 20th centuries, were donated on Dec. 27, 2004 by Mace, CEO of Turblex, Inc. from Springfield.

Christensen said Mace is a collector of African art and donated it as a “study collection.”

“He is moving up to another level [and] a higher quality,” he said.

Mace promises to make another donation sometime this year, he said.

The items, after appraisal, range from $100 to $1,000, but Christensen said most of the items in the gallery are of lesser value.

Christensen said having art appraised takes research and documentation in that it is an evaluation of the object.

In this case, the art was appraised for insurance purposes.

“Some items are easier to find to compare to [other art],” he said.

If the item is of a higher value, extensive documentation must be done, he said.

“[Appraisal] can get expensive,” Christensen said.

Before an item can be donated, it must be appraised.

Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies, said he is pleased to see the donations as an outgrowth for the University.

“Val Christensen’s interest in African art is a direct result of the 1998 Africa semester,” Stebbins said.

The Institute has had a hand in helping the gallery. In the past, grants were given to help to pay for extra materials and art.

Stebbins said Christensen has taken students to purchase art for the University.

“Students have actually made the selections,” he said.

Through next week, there is an exhibit in the Spiva Art Gallery presenting artwork, not only donated from Mace, but from other donors. Some of the items are also on loan at Spiva Center for the Arts.

In May, the African art will be taken to Pittsburg State University to be placed on display.

Out of the items on display in the exhibit Mace donated, Christensen said he enjoys the Luba maternity figure from the Congo.

“[It has] a serene quality and is nicely carved,” he said.

He said another piece of art he likes is the bellaphone from West Africa that is 50 years old.

Christensen hopes to have a course on African art in spring 2006.

Along with Mace, other donations have been made to the University.

“We are always open to donations,” Christensen said.