Date(s) - August 23, 2023 - December 17, 2023
10:00 am - 6:00 pm

Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, University Center for the Arts

Shattering Perspectives: A Teaching Collection of African Ceramics

The Griffin Foundation Gallery, August 23 – December 17, 2023

This encore presentation of Shattering Perspectives: A Teaching Collection of African Ceramics is a collaborative, student-generated exhibition exploring ceramic arts from across the African continent through vessels and objects from the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art’s permanent collections.

Originally on view from February 21 to April 25, 2021, this Shattering Perspectives encore takes a unique approach to discussing African ceramics through the lens of a teaching collection and was originally produced with Colorado State University students enrolled in an art history seminar course in Spring 2020. The students, who also served as co-curators, authors, and exhibition designers, explored the politics and poetics of museum display while delving into the methods, functions, and symbolism surrounding pottery, as well as the roles of ceramic artists across the African continent. The result is a dynamic exhibition that presents unique viewpoints on approaching and discussing these fascinating objects through hands-on engagements and theoretical dialogue.

The exhibition is organized around the themes of art versus artifact, misconceptions about the “unknown” African artist, pot-making techniques across the continent, and visual expressions of identity. These perspectives present viewers with insights on working with a teaching collection and the resulting dialogue that develops through encounters with art objects and critical texts.

Organized and curated by David M. M. Riep, Associate Professor of Art History



Fragments of a jar warred or dullag [liquid storage vessel] from an unidentified Nuba artist in 20th century Sudan. From the encore exhibition Shattering Perspectives.
Unidentified Nuba Artist, Sudan, Jar warred or dullag [liquid storage vessel], 20th century, clay, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, CSU, 2004.600. Image copyright Gary Huibregste.



About the curator

David Riep received an M.A. in art history from the University of Kentucky (2005) and a Ph.D. (2011) in art history from the University of Iowa with a specialization in the arts of Africa. David’s area of research centers on South Sotho art and history in southern Africa. He spent more than five years living in South Africa between 2000 and 2011, working with several NGOs and completing his field research with support from a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Stanley Award for International Research.
Most recently, David has been involved in an ongoing multi-disciplinary project entitled Africa Meets Africa, which explores southern African cultural heritage and uses cultural context as a link to understanding the arts, mathematics, language, and history. This non-profit project produces a series of interactive learning materials for the South African public school system, including publications and DVDs, and provides educator training and support in the use of the materials.
In addition to his ongoing research, David is interested in the multidisciplinary topics of cultural formation and identity, and enjoys engaging with the concept of continuity and change in global art production. These interests have led him to produce several documentary films on the arts and cultures of southern Africa, which serve as an archive of artists, artistic processes, and culturally sensitive events, and allows one to contextualize the arts of Africa within a classroom setting. David served as an at-large member on the board of directors for the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) from 2012-2015, and was the association’s newsletter editor and liaison to the College Art Association (CAA).

Related Programming

Gallery Tour with Dave Riep

Saturday, September 23 at 1 p.m.

Pottery Workshop with Sanam Emami

Saturday, September 23 from 2 to 4 p.m. ($10 materials fee)

Shattering Perspectives Curator Talk & Exhibition Reception

Thursday, October 19 at 5:30 p.m.

Exhibition Resources

Original Shattering Perspectives exhibition checklist [PDF]

Original installation images for Shattering Perspectives, 2021


Shattering Perspectives exhibition video tour with David Riep


Critic & Artist Residency Series & Scott Artist Series: Magdalene Odundo, February 2021



Ongoing support for the museum’s exhibitions and programming is generously provided by the City of Fort Collins Fort Fund, the FUNd Endowment at CSU, and Colorado Creative Industries. CCI and its activities are made possible through an annual appropriation from the Colorado General Assembly and federal funds from the National Endowment for the arts.

Fort Fund


  1. Shattering Perspectives: A Teaching Collection of African Ceramics is a poignant reminder of the depth, diversity, and dynamism of African art and culture. The unique interplay between students and established museum structures adds a fresh, youthful energy to this encore exhibition. What stands out is the intimate involvement of Colorado State University students, giving the audience a chance to see, feel, and understand African ceramics through the eyes of the next generation of art enthusiasts and scholars. The themes chosen for the exhibition reflect deep thought and an astute understanding of the broader art landscape, challenging longstanding notions and inviting viewers to engage with the artifacts in a more meaningful, personal manner. The emphasis on the art versus artifact debate and addressing misconceptions about the ‘unknown’ African artist are particularly significant. Kudos to David M. M. Riep and the student co-curators for creating an exhibit that not only showcases African ceramics but also serves as a teaching tool that provokes contemplation and discussion. An absolute must-visit!

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