Maria Auxiliadora da Silva (Brazilian, 1938–1974) , Plantação (Plantation) 1971, Oil and mixed media on canvas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The John Axelrod Collection—Frank B. Bemis Fund and Charles H. Bayley Fund
The exhibition Samba Sessão will introduce viewers to the visual culture of African-descended people living in Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest country and a seldom exhibited and little studied area of Latin American art. Formerly home to the largest concentration of African slaves in the Americas and the longest lasting slave system in the Western Hemisphere, it has a rich artistic tradition. Collected in the late-1990s by John P. Axelrod and later acquired by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the fifteen paintings and four sculptures that form the core of the exhibition were all made during the twentieth century and draw on different aspects of Afro-Brazilian life, from working in the fields to religious rituals and syncretic belief systems born from the experience of New World enslavement. An examination of Brazilian film and television from the 1950s to the present will also be incorporated in this exhibition.
This exhibition is being organized in cooperation with students in the Halpern-Rogath Curatorial Seminar supported by the Department of the History of Art and the Arthur Ross Gallery. The seminar is being taught by professors Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw and Tamara J. Walker.