Creativity Revisited: Narration and Embodiment in African Art

Sonia Silva, Skidmore College


After half a century at the forefront of scholarship, the topic of artistic creativity in sub-Saharan Africa has lost much of its glamour. In light of her apprenticeship to a basket maker in northwest Zambia the author revisits the work of several scholars who have written on the topic, arguing that visualism and logocentrism are ultimately detrimental to the understanding of the creative process. Creativity, she argues, blossoms in art making when the artist’s mind and skillful body coalesce in engagement with materials. Consequently, a theoretical and methodological reorientation to the study of creativity is in order, one in which, together with observation and interviewing, the experiential methodology of apprenticeship is uniquely promising.