Free symposium celebrates African culture

The College is hosting a free two-day event this weekend to celebrate African culture and heritage.

St. Scholastica's music department will host the "Symposium on Contemporary African Arts" Friday, Feb. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 20. The festival, supported by a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, will feature various presentations and workshops culminating in a Saturday evening concert; all sessions are free and open to the public.

Friday, Feb. 19, will feature presentations by John Frazier, award-winning art educator. From 12:45 to 1:50 p.m. in Somers Lounge on campus, he will discuss how art functions in African cultures, with a focus on the syncretic Haitian Vodou religion, which combines African religions, Christianity and indigenous Native American beliefs. This is Frazier's area of dissertation research.

He will follow that discussion at 3:30 p.m. with an interactive overview of African art and culture, featuring Mande and Ashanti arts of West Africa, African proverbial speech, and the arts of the Ituri Rain Forest. This talk will last until 4:45 p.m. in Somers Lounge. A question-and-answer session will follow each presentation.

Saturday will feature a presentation from 1 to 2 p.m. in Mitchell Auditorium with guest artist and director Sowah Mensah, who is a Ghanaian composer and educator.
He'll discuss Ghanaian music culture, particularly the music that will be presented in a collaborative community concert at 7:30 p.m. in the Mitchell Auditorium. Mensah will direct a performance involving St. Scholastica's World Drumming Ensemble, Harbor City International School, Two Harbors High School, and Sing: A Women's Chorus Community Choir.

Also on Saturday, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the Mitchell Auditorium, Frazier will discuss Africa and African art's role in the world today. This program will include an interactive trivia session about modern Africa.

This activity is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, thanks to legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.