Andile Dyalvane on ‘Umwonyo’ at The Met

"Culturally, traditionally, and in African spirituality and the way that I practice, we relate to the past, so the present can prepare the future."

In this short video, Andile Dyalvane talks about his ceramic work, Umwonyo, which is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s long-term installation, Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room. The exhibition transforms a 19th-century domestic interior into a space untethered by time and includes work by Chuma Maweni and Zizipho Poswa

Umwonyo—which means “crevice” in the Xhosa language—evokes the mountainous landscapes that surround both Ngobozana, Dyalvane’s rural birthplace in the Eastern Cape, and Cornwall, England, where he made this pot during an artist’s residency at Leach Pottery.

The vessel’s craggy dips and ridges were formed when his dancing in the studio caused it to collapse, a serendipitous moment that distilled both landscapes into a single artwork and created an energetic link between Dyalvane’s past and present.⁣

Raised as a farmer and herder, Dyalvane creates ceramic works that speak to his deep appreciation for the earth. He says: “Culturally, traditionally, and in African spirituality and the way that I practice, we relate to the past, so the present can prepare the future.”

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