The Fowler Museum at UCLA has received a $75,000 planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to support the upcoming exhibition, "Striking Iron: The Art of African Blacksmiths."

The grant was announced as part of a dispersal of $36.6 million in grants for more than 200 humanities projects. “The grant projects announced today represent the very best of humanities scholarship and programming,” said NEH Chairman William Adams. “NEH is proud to support programs that illuminate the great ideas and events of our past, broaden access to our nation’s many cultural resources, and open up for us new ways of understanding the world in which we live.”

"Striking Iron" will present 250 stunning sub-Saharan artworks borrowed from American and European public and private collections, and will cover a time period spanning early archaeological evidence to the present day. The exhibition will offer visitors an illuminating introduction to the history of invention and technical sophistication that led African blacksmiths to transform one of Earth’s most basic natural resources into objects of life-changing utility, empowerment, prestige, spiritual potency and astonishing artistry.  

Scheduled to open in spring 2018, the exhibition will travel to three or more national and international venues. In-depth studies of iron arts are relatively few, given their central importance to African cultural histories. "Striking Iron" seeks to further scholarship in these areas through its engaging and immersive exhibition, major publication, web-based offerings and public program series. It promises to be the most comprehensive treatment of African iron arts to date.

The curatorial team is headed by MacArthur Fellow and acclaimed Santa Fe-based artist and master blacksmith Tom Joyce, and includes co-curators/scholars: Allen F. Roberts, UCLA professor of world arts and cultures; William J. Dewey, associate professor of African Art history at Pennsylvania State University; and Henry John Drewal, Evjue-Bascom Professor of Art History and Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin/Madison.