This was one of the first pieces of Kerry James Marshall that I saw live in a museum. I loved it and could not wait to show it to anyone who would come with me. Africa Restored (Cheryl as Cleopatra) (2003) There are a million little stories in buttons and memorabilia across this work. They each tell a story of a history of a people.
Kerry James Marshall describes Africa Restored (Cheryl as Cleopatra) as “the shape of Africa reconfigured as a cubist sculpture.” Reversing art-historical narratives of modernist painting’s appropriation of African sculpture, it offers a complex meditation on African ancestry and black aesthetics. Africa Restored formally references the nkisi nkondi, or power figures, of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These sculptures were crafted as basic armatures into which accretions of metals, mirrors, and nails were driven to activate their force. (Art Institute of Chicago)