October 1, 2015

“Guardian Spirits” Brings Mesa College’s African Art Collection to San Diego Central Library

By Office of Communications

guardian spirits

Sacred sculptures from San Diego Mesa College’s permanent African art collection will be on display at the San Diego Central Library Auditorium October 4 through December 17. The public is invited to attend the opening reception of “Guardian Spirits” on Wednesday, October 7.

Guardian Spirits  features of select pieces of African art from the San Diego Mesa College permanent collection. The pieces embody ancestral energy that ensures the health, sanctity and prosperity of their communities.

“These pieces were chosen based on their ability to protect, nurture, teach, or guide the people from the regions they represent,” says exhibition curator and San Diego Mesa College Art History professor, Dr. Denise Rogers. “Each one has a spiritual element that connects to a particular ancestor whose role is to ensure balance and security in these communities.”

The exhibition will be on view at the San Diego Central Library from October 4 to December 17, 2015, on the 1st floor in the Dickinson Popular Library.

The opening reception on October 7th will open with live African drum and dance performance just before 6:00 p.m. in the Neil Morgan Auditorium. Following the performance will be a viewing of the exhibition on the first floor of the library. At 7:00 p.m., San Diego Mesa College President Pamela Luster will deliver a welcome message to attendees. Rogers will then give a brief history on the collection and pieces on display. 

Guardian Spirits features 40 pieces from Mesa College’s collection that demonstrate the beauty in African sculpture and the rich cultural heritage of African people. They include a dozen brass pieces, seven of stone, six wood divination pieces, five masks, and eight standing sculptures.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is Blo Bla, or Spirit Wife. Originally from the Baule people of Cote de I’voire in West Africa, Blo Bla personifies a guardian spirit who manifests in the dreams of a male spouse to guide and protect him as he faces daily problems.

Other pieces from the permanent collection are on display for public viewing at the African Art Glass Gallery, located on the first floor of the Learning Resource Center (LRC) at Mesa College. Students enrolled in Art History study the collection as part of their coursework. For more information on the collection, visit

San Diego Mesa College strives to ensure the African Art collection is available to the campus community and the city of San Diego to support an environment that promotes cultural enrichment and educational excellence.

The Guardian Spirits exhibit is made possible donors Lee and Rada Bronson, Dr. John Jack Kimbrough & Family, Dr. Arvin & Victoria Klein, Charles Robertson, and Richard and Susan Ulevitch. Special thanks to the San Diego Central Public Library; the African and Pacific Arts Council of the San Diego Museum of Art; and the San Diego Mesa College Foundation. The collection is managed through the Mesa College Foundation.  For more information on the Foundation, contact Anne Zacovic, 619-388-2285 or email

The image shown is Blo Bla (Female Figure), Baule, Ivory Coast.

Tags: African Art, Art History