The NCMA is excited to have received 12 African works from Reggie and Celeste Hodges’s esteemed collection. Their generous gift of nearly 100 African artworks to Triangle-area institutions is not only thrilling; it is also timely. It comes at a moment when North Carolina is growing, turning its attention toward education and exhibitions on African and diaspora arts.
Today North Carolina—in addition to housing a number of admirable collections of African and diaspora objects—can boast of an unprecedented number of scholars in the arts, cultures, and histories of Africa. The Hodges’s donations further position North Carolina to lead the Southeast in the display of and education about African arts and cultures. This gift, while financially valuable (because the works are of extremely high quality and technically sophisticated), also carries an enormous educational and cultural value that outshines its market value. Reggie and Celeste’s knowledge, passion, and generosity is so inspiring and will help our community understand more about Africa and its relevance to our lives.
And let’s not beat around the bush. This country has some ongoing precarious—at times even volatile—racial tensions, and we need such open-minded inspiration. As borders tighten and calcify, and countries turn away from one another, it matters that much more for our state, our region, our immediate community to think collaboratively, to work together to strengthen our knowledge of other worldviews and cultural values. Such selfless, widespread generosity is what makes a global community, and what shapes museum culture in moving forward.
Celeste and Reginald Hodges explain the significance and aesthetics of beauty among women of the Sande society. They also tell how the mask was given to them in appreciation for their philanthropy with local schools.