In Central Africa, villages have long operated in a matrilineal fashion. Women and mothers are not pigeonholed as caregivers, but instead shape group identities—they are the moral, spiritual, and cultural compass of the community. In response, and as an ode to these leaders and the female body, artists in the mid 19th century through the early 20th century celebrated these women with sculptures, monumental headdresses, and objects associated with high status. In “A Perfect Power,” 40 such works from private and public collections are on display. —E.C.
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