Spectators watch MFA student/artist Helina Metaferia perform

Spectators watch MFA student/artist Helina Metaferia perform her piece titled “Ancestral Honoring”.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day, Citizens Bank, in conjunction with the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), offered the museum's free annual open house. The turnout was enormous, with over 2,000 in attendance before noon. The activities were thoughtfully informative, particularly a piece created and performed by MFA student/artist Helina Metaferia titled, “Ancestral Honoring.”

MFA’s Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Liz Munzell saw this piece and immediately thought to add it to the holiday program. “In my opinion the public should be aware of the diversity that exists within America. It is present in our everyday life, yet we don’t often explore it. I chose this piece because it communicates just that,” she stated.

The piece, which was performed twice that day, was well received. The artist wore an outfit configured out of a map and family photos. The movement in the performance was unique. It consisted of Metaferia transitioning in and out of crimson-colored water intended to resemble blood.

Every so often she delicately stepped into the dried hibiscus ring positioned at the perimeter of her performance space. The audience seemed quite captivated, openly speculating on her intentions.

There was huge applause from the audience following the conclusion of the piece. I had the pleasure of meeting Metaferia after her performance. Metaferia, who is first-generation Ethiopian-American, was very humble and inviting.  When I asked what inspired this piece, she said, “The transitions that we can all relate to.”

 She added, “Stepping in and out of the water was representation of the blood ties that connect us all to the different places around the globe from which we hail.” In addition she stated, “Ultimately I’d like for everyone to develop their own interpretation of the piece.”

Munzell could not have chosen a better performance to honor such a holiday. It was something you had to see and was uniquely placed; it was truly a gift. Judging by the applause, the audience thought so as well.

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