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16 years ago Olayami Dabls came to the corner of Grand River and West Grand Blvd with a vision to create a space for his community to understand the immense power of their African heritage.
Occupying almost an entire city block, the Dabls Mbad African Bead Museum houses 18 outdoor installations as well as the African Bead Gallery, N’kisi House and African Language Wall. Born of his own visual cosmology, Dabls’ MBAD African Bead Museum is a quiet revolution that sparks a vital conversation with global and local audiences.
This is a walking tour of MBAD African Museum’s newest outdoor installations by founder/visual storyteller, Olayami Dabls. Born of his own visual cosmology, MBAD is a quiet revolution that sparks a vital conversation. Dabls will tour works created/restored during the pandemic, all of which use African material culture to tell stories about the human condition.
“One of the installations depicts a rock with an iron rod protruding from it and over the years the rock has been stained by rust water running over it. The rock wanted to rust so badly that it was easy for the iron to convince it that it had truly rusted. The iron asked the rock if it would go to the land of the trees and teach wood how to rust, the rock agreed to go. Now Rocks are teaching wood how to rust.”
Dabls’ project is a decolonized monument to lost languages and culture of the African diaspora in the US. It counters the tradition of imposing, permanent monuments by standing as something that is deliberately ephemeral/constantly evolving. The project is an example of how we can reconcile our past/imagine a better future by acknowledging untold histories and stimulating emotional and cultural healing.