LAKELAND (October 23, 2019) – Spirits: Ritual and Ceremonial African and Oceanic Art from the Dr. Alan and Linda Rich Collection exhibition opens at the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College on October 26, 2019. This free admission show will be on view in the Museum’s Gallery II through January 26, 2020.
Over the course of four decades, Dr. Alan and Linda Rich have displayed a passion for helping others, traveling the world and bringing medical care to those in need. With his profession as an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon and hers as an occupational therapist trained to help Alan in clinics and in surgeries, the Riches worked together to transform the lives of many in need of critical eye care.
While working in clinics in Papua New Guinea and throughout Africa, the Riches also immersed themselves in the diverse artistic cultures of the countries they visited. Along the way, they acquired a collection of ritual and ceremonial objects that fill their home today. In this Polk Museum original exhibition, curated by executive director Dr. H. Alexander Rich (no relation) in close collaboration with the Riches, these artifacts, most of which speak to the close spiritual communion between humans and animals, will be displayed publicly for the first time.
Dr. Alan Rich acquired the first artifact in the collection in the 1960s, before he met Linda. Since then, the collection has grown in number and variety of pieces as the couple sought to gain a better understanding of the cultures and peoples they were visiting and treating. When they first started acquiring works together, the Riches received many of the pieces as gifts from grateful patients or from bartering directly with artisans in local marketplaces.
“African and Oceanic artists rarely create art just for art’s sake – their art is intimately connected to rituals and ceremony,” noted Linda. “Our art collecting was certainly secondary to the eye mission itself, but each object chosen for this exhibition has a special meaning to us in terms of how we acquired it and its spiritual purpose.”
Highlighted pieces within the show include 11 elaborately crafted masks from all over West Africa, five wooden Chiwaras (antelope-style headdresses worn for agricultural dances and rituals) from Mali’s Bambara people, and a large relief of village life scenes from Mozambique. In conjunction with this unique multicultural exhibition, a series of adult programs and events are scheduled.
For more details about the exhibition, program schedule, and Museum hours/location, contact Taylor Holycross at 863-688-7743 ext. 249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College
The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida, is a not-for-profit academic fine art museum dedicated to enhancing lives through inspirational and engaging art experiences for all. It is the only Smithsonian Affiliate fine art museum accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in Central Florida and serves 148,000 visitors yearly. Museum hours are Tuesdays–Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays (except June 1 to Labor Day) 1 pm to 5 pm. It is closed to the public on Mondays and major holidays. The facility is handicapped accessible and special needs assistance is available. Admission is free, thanks to our strategic partners the Ting Tsung and Wei Fong Chao Foundation, Share Foundation, and Southern Homes (Amy & Ed Laderer).