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On Exhibit: Sea Celebration


By David Landau

Published Apr 1, 2008 8:00 AM

Copyright © Courtesy of the Fowler Museum

For one day this month — well, six hours — UCLA's Fowler Museum will be flooded with sea creatures, seaweed, merpeople, music and dancing. Welcome to "Splash! A Celebration of Mermaids and the Sea" at the Fowler Museum, presented with Heal the Bay as part of the Fowler's new exhibit, Mami Wata: Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas.

Often portrayed as a mermaid, a snake charmer, or a combination of both, Mami Wata (Mother Water) is one of Africa's most important spirits. Along with a "school" of other water spirits, she honors the essential, sacred nature of water. The exhibit explores 500 years of visual cultures and histories of Mami Wata through sculpture, paintings, masks, altars and more from west and central Africa, the Caribbean, Brazil and the United States.

And there's plenty of water fun for the kids throughout Mami Wata's Fowler run. On April 6, the exhibition's opening day, kids will fashion their watery wear for "Splash!" in the Fowler Courtyard. The festival itself takes place on April 19 and features a costume parade with cash prizes for Queen and King of the Merfolk and other categories, live performances by Viver Brasil Dance Company and the Congo's Balobi Bandeko, food booths, face painting, art workshops, sea-creature touch tanks and much, much more.

Splash! A Celebration of Mermaids and the Sea. The UCLA Fowler Museum. Sunday, April 6 (watery wear), 1-4 p.m.; Saturday, April 19 (festival), 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Free. For information, call (310) 825-4361 or visit