The Santa Barbara Museum of Art has launched its first exhibit dedicated to sculpture. Called Out of Storage and into the Light: Sculptures That Tell Stories, it features a wonderful array of 50 pieces from the SBMA’s permanent collection. The exhibit, which is culturally diverse and historically broad, is carefully arranged by themes — dance and music, animals, flight, the head, and the body.
The sculptures on display are constructed using various media, including marble, terra-cotta, carved bone, bronze, aluminum, sandstone, wood, and other variously robust materials. One of the more colorful pieces is the painted early 20th-century “Kuba Mask (Pwoom Itok)” from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The personified mask hangs on the southeast wall, gazing with tight lips and wide eyes at visitors. Also worth seeing are the pre-Columbian carved marble “Kneeling Figure” and the work by contemporary African-American artist Betye Saar, who participated in the Black Arts Movement in the 1970s. Her sculpture features a treasure-like box that contains wooden animal figures, memorabilia, and decorative elements.
The exhibit features mostly small to medium-sized sculptures that have previously been displayed alone as culturally specific objects, but this is the first time SBMA has united them and produced a collective energy. Overall, Sculptures That Tell Stories is a modest and excellent exhibition of exceptionally preserved art works, many of which have survived for thousands of years.
Out of Storage and into the Light: Sculptures That Tell Stories runs through August 18, 2019. See sbma.net.