In the early 1980’s artist Vusumuzi Maduna created two monumental sculptures inspired by African masks; “Inner City Totem I” outside the Cambridge Community Center and “Inner City Totem II” outside Margaret Fuller House. Sadly stressed by decades of New England seasons, both were recently restored in ways that should help them stand through countless decades ahead. Here are photos from my visits to each site this month with quotes from key resources (links in red type) about the art, artist, and restoration.
“In August, Maduna’s “Inner City Totem I,” 1981, a wood and steel sculpture outside the Cambridge Community Center that resembles a monumental African mask, was vibrantly restored by Greg Curci of Winthrop for Cambridge Arts. Curci replaced rotted wooden pieces, painted to match the original; cleaned and varnished rusted steel; and replaced worn fasteners. Curci completed restoration, including repairs to significant structural damage, of a companion piece, “Inner City Totem II,” 1983, at the Margaret Fuller House this month.” (quote excerpt from Cambridge Arts News, Jan. 19, 2021)
‘Born in Cambridge, sculptor/painter Vusumuzi Maduna (1940 – 2007) spent much of his life as an artist resident of the Gallery at the Piano Factory in Boston. Maduna began his exploration of African culture with a study of African religions which led him to further examine and interpret the traditional embodiment of belief and myth. Educated at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, he was a member of the African American Master Artists in Residency Program of Northeastern University. His work has been exhibited in the MFA and the ICA, as well as in Tokyo and the People’s Republic of China. Yet Maduna returned to the neighborhoods of his childhood to create pieces that remind us of the African heritage that many in the community share.” ( quote from KEEPERS OF THE CULTURE: A CELEBRATION OF VUSUMUZI MADUNA AND EKUA HOLMES, January 2018)
“Greg Curci executed a sympathetic treatment that really allows the two ‘Totems’ to be seen again as, we believe, Maduna had intended,” Cambridge Arts Director of Art Conservation Craig Uram says of the restoration. “Additionally, some slight structural modifications were made that will allow us to more easily maintain the pieces as part of our annual program, keeping them looking remarkable for a long time.” ( quote excerpt from Cambridge Arts News, Jan. 19, 2021)