Solange Mallett | Founder and Owner - African Plural Art
Traditional textile weaving, Ivory Coast
African Tribal Necklace with Mixed Trade Beads, Mali, West Africa
Lidded Gourd Vessel, Senufo, Ivory Coast
African Plural Art was born from my deep love of African art and culture – particularly that of Côte d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast), West Africa. That was where, as a young girl, I established friendships, created memories, and developed a strong appreciation of the art and culture of my roots.
My childhood was rich with creative influences – from the hand-crafted pottery made by my entrepreneur mother, to the beautiful rhythms and melodies of my father, a musician. The Ivory Coast, a diverse cultural blend of ethnic groups, is renowned for its tradespeople, so from an early age the convergence of culture, art and business shaped my everyday experiences – it’s in my blood!
Some years later, while living in Madagascar, I worked with a non-profit organization helping to raise money for a women’s cooperative. Inspired by the talents of these Madagascan women artisans – weaving exquisitely hand-crafted baskets - I traveled to the Ivory Coast and France to sell their baskets while learning all I could about art and its meaning. This instilled a self-discovery of my entrepreneurial spirit.
While living in France in 2011, I was introduced to an art dealer who exposed me to the world of African art, stirring those childhood memories, and inspiring me to start my first gallery in Paris - African Plural Art: a manifestation of a lifelong passion for African tribal artwork, as well as a vehicle to contribute to the promotion of African culture and history.
A former native of the Ivory Coast, my life and my gallery are now in the Bay Area, California, yet I count myself lucky to be able to remain connected to African art and culture through African Plural Art. In my San Francisco gallery, I am surrounded by artwork and tribal artifacts crafted by talented artists who I can help to give recognition for their work and dedication.
My goal is to introduce others to the distinctive beauty of African art objects (including both tribal artifacts and contemporary pieces), whether they be unique, one-of-a-kind collectors' items, statement jewelry, or simply decorative elements for a home or business – all hand-crafted by artisans throughout Africa.
It is my honor to have this opportunity to share and showcase the beautiful talents and history of Africa through African Plural Art.
Origin of the Art
The art pieces available on africanartssf.com originate primarily from West Africa, where I have established a trusted network of contacts while living there, and still spend an extensive amount of time. I visit local artists, villages, and collectives, with each item being personally chosen either by myself or by a carefully chosen network of knowledgeable, trusted colleagues, enabling us to collect a wide variety of unique objects of excellent quality. As a result of this network, the scope of travels and connections to artisans continues to grow across the continent, allowing us to constantly discover extraordinary new objects from different countries throughout Africa.
Each piece is exceptionally unique, charged with emotion, and engenders a visceral response in the observer. Occasionally, in the course of their use, certain pieces may have suffered, and have subsequently been repaired by the villagers themselves. This in no way detracts from the beauty and purpose of each item; on the contrary, it adds to the unique character and beauty of the work.
"Kpan Kpan Dance," from Vogel, Baule: African Art, Western Eyes, 1997, p. 146.