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The Mass Media

Chaz Maviyane-Davies exhibit opens in Harbor Gallery

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Guests at Maviyane-Davies’ newest exhibition at the Harbor Gallery

Many students overlook the Harbor Gallery, a campus gem. The University of Massachusetts Boston gallery is filled with an alcove of talent, and is located on the first floor of the McCormack building. The Gallery regularly rotates a featured artist, and is featuring the work of world-renowned Chaz Maviyane-Davies from Feb. 2 to March 12.
On Feb. 5, Maviyane-Davies and the Gallery hosted an opening reception to introduce his work, in which he and Professor Emeritus Al Gowan of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design offered some insight into the graphic design pieces that cover a profoundly vast array of social, political, and economic issues faced around the globe.
The exhibit displays a series of pieces from Maviyane-Davies’ book, “A World of Questions,” which  was inspired by a quote by Bertrand Russell: “In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Indeed, every piece in the series features the physical form of a question mark worked into a representation of a particular issue.
Maviyane-Davies, from politically-troubled Zimbabwe, holds a special motive close to heart: a desire to promote thinking and acting about the problems around us.
“Chaz brought with him and carries with him to this day a very steady and constant and fierce desire to make graphic design send messages that make us think,” Gowan said of Chaz. “He could be working commercially, but he prefers to do his own design work that no one else is doing.”
Maviyane-Davies realizes the power art has. “It has potential to stir us into action and out of indifference and positively impact our complacency,” he says.
“I want to tell you a story. It is one of those encounters that makes you angry and makes you want to do posters like this,” Maviyane-Davies said at the reception.
“It was a sculpture from Nigeria that is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I wanted to get a photo of it for a question mark, and it’s not here, because I couldn’t get it.”
Maviyane-Davies spent months going through the process of trying to get permission from the museum, even willing to pay a hundred-dollar fine. He was denied, with no explanation.
“What is worse for me as an African is that, that sculpture was looted from Africa, not paid for, then put in a museum that’s making money from people seeing it. And I cannot, as an African, pay for the image of that sculpture to use, to promote African culture. And that is the kind of stuff my work is about.”