Current Show:

Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints

January 28 - March 16

More information...





Current Show

DiditoDidito, Candomblé Ceremony, 1992, acrylic on canvas,
19 x 27 inches, courtesy Con/Vida – Popular Arts
of the Americas. © Didito. Image: Paul Primeau

The Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art at Central Methodist University has been selected as one of a limited number of galleries nationwide to feature a major exhibition on Brazilian history and culture.

"Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints: Popular Art from the Northeast of Brazil," opens on Thursday, Jan. 28 and runs through March 16. A special reception is set for Sunday, Jan. 31 from 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Gallery hours are 1:30-4:30 p.m. on Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays. For more information or to inquire about special tours, contact Denise Gebhardt, curator, or Dr. Joe Geist, registrar of the collection, at 660-248-6304, or by email at

The exhibition recently premiered in Texas, with CMU the second stop. It has taken two decades of research and acquisition to develop and prepare for the five-year North American tour.

"It is a remarkable exhibition, a first-rate exhibition," Gebhardt said. "The interactive nature of the presentation offers an unparalleled opportunity for gallery visitors to experience hands-on activities not often found within a gallery or museum setting."

The exhibition uses the little-known art of Northeast Brazil to tell the story of Brazil's history, traditions and culture going back more than 500 years. Focusing especially on contributions from Africa, it features sculptures, paintings, prints, religious objects, festival costumes, toys and other material that give access to the history and daily life of this complex and interesting area of the Americas.

"Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints" includes nearly 100 works by approximately two dozen artists who draw inspiration from their local culture. In addition, eminent Brazilian photographers Adenor Gondim and Antônio Neto provide unusual photos and video footage showing the lively festivals, ceremonies and pilgrimages that shape life in the northeast.

Nossa Senhora de AparecidaJ. Borges, Nossa Senhora de Aparecida (Our Lady of
Aparecida, Patroness of Brazil), N.D., colored
woodblock print, 26 x 19 inches, courtesy
Con/Vida – Popular Arts of the Americas.
© J. Borges. Image: Paul Primeau.

"Bandit & Heroes, Poets & Saints" was made possible through the National Endowment for the Humanities' On the Road program, a special initiative of the NEH, Gebhardt said. The exhibition was organized by CON/VIDA-Popular Arts of the Americas in association with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Also supporting the exhibition is the Mid-American Arts Alliance.

"It's such a richly detailed exhibition – presenting the cultural influences of the Portuguese, the African Slaves and the indigenous peoples of the Northeast Region of Brazil," Gebhardt added. "When we heard about the show, we completed the application for a grant from the NEH and we were one of the 23 locations accepted."

"Bandits & Heroes, Poets & Saints" is an exhibition in three parts. "The Land & Its People" presents the complicated history of sugar plantations and African slavery in colonial Brazil. "Expressions of Faith" presents the rich African-Brazilian religion of Candomblé, exploring its historic African roots and its intersection with Roman Catholicism.

"Poetry, Celebration & Song" features literatura de cordel (literature on a string) produced by singing poets who "sell" their songs in small chapbooks in markets and fairs. Poetry, prints, and sculptures inspired by folk legends and current events signal the dynamic fusion of tradition and improvisation in the culture of the Northeast.

CON/VIDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting understanding for the diverse cultures, traditions, and history of the Americas expressed through popular art.