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Odes to the Mask
When the Bamana peoples of Mali dance in rites related to the agricultural cycle, they wear headdresses called ci wara (or tji wara). The graceful, elongated lines of the wooden forms evoke parent-and-child antelope pairings—or, sometimes, aardvarks, or armored pangolins. Willie Cole pays homage to the genre in Next Kent tji wara, a 2007 sculpture made out of bicycle parts. The piece is part of “Reconfiguring an African Icon: Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three Continents,” a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring “highly creative re-imaginings of the iconic form of the African mask.”