Anonymous, Senufo, Inland Ivory Coast, Rhythm Pounder, 1900-1950, mixed media wood and natural pigments, Tony Hoyt Collection. (Photo by Eileen Rafferty)

Homage to Africa: The Tony Hoyt and Molly Shepherd Collections  

“These two Montana-based private collections reveal the richness and splendor of African art in the post-colonial period and the diverse world views of the distinct societies that created it,” said MMAC Director H. Rafael Chacón.

UM alumnus Tony Hoyt has collected African art since his youth. A large part of his collection was acquired by his mother, Dorothy Hoyt, a founder of the Ithaca College Museum. Much of the collection – particularly sculptures of ancestral figures and spirits, as well as masks used in elaborate masquerades – came from his time in the Peace Corps in Liberia during 1967-69. Another portion came from Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal member Doug Allard, a long-time collector and purveyor of art from beyond the Western tradition. The Hoyt Collection, focused on the centrality of art in its ceremonial context, has been researched and studied extensively by UM art history students over the last decade.

UM Law School alumna and textile artist Molly Shepherd has collected African art for over 30 years. At the core of her collection are exquisite textiles created by the Kuba people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and other functional items such as baskets and headrests from Ethiopia and eastern central Africa. Shepherd said she prefers “the abstract to the representational … the challenge of ambiguity, unpredictability and surprise” in African art. “Some quality in the work touches us and sustains our attention, resonates within us in a way that may be difficult to articulate or resist,” she said. “It’s not unlike falling in love.”

Feb. 5 to May 8, 2021 At the Paxson Gallery.

Take a virtual docent tour of this exhibition online. For the Tony Hoyt Collection, click on:
https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=br4D2fSaFqj and for the Molly Shepherd exhibition, visit: https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=U4skjFWs3KJ.