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Ethiopia: The Art of Cross-Cultural Exchange
with Dr. Christine Sciacca, Curator of European Art, 300-1400 CE

The rich history of Ethiopian art has been explored in a handful of exhibitions over the past three decades; however, it has been studied primarily in isolation. While scholars have acknowledged that Ethiopia stands at a crossroads between the Mediterranean World, the Middle East, and India thanks to its location and its placement along trade routes, the specific ways in which it came into contact with the art of surrounding cultures have never been studied in an exhibition. From the pre-Christian period to the present day, Ethiopian artists have developed distinctive traditions while drawing upon the neighboring ones from Coptic Egypt, Nubia, South Arabia, Byzantium, Armenia, Italy, the greater African continent, and India, among others. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, artists belonging to Ethiopian diaspora communities in North America and Europe have built upon this legacy. By examining the connections between Ethiopia and its surrounding cultures, we can better understand the impact of this great African artistic tradition.


Christine Sciacca is Curator of European Art, 300-1400 CE at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. She received her Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.A. in Art History from Columbia University and a B.A. in Art History from Cornell University. Previously, Christine was a curator of illuminated manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum for ten years, and she has worked in several other museums, including The Met Cloisters and The British Library. Her research concentrates on Italian, German, and Ethiopian medieval art, with a focus on liturgy, devotional practice, and patronage. Her book publications include Building the Medieval World and Illuminating Women in the Medieval World. Her international loan exhibition and accompanying catalogue, Florence at the Dawn of the Renaissance: Painting and Illumination, 1300-1350, appeared at the Getty Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto in 2012-2013. She is currently developing the exhibition, opening at the Walters Art Museum in December 2023, which will travel to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, and the Toledo Museum of Art. The exhibition has received both a Planning Grant and an Implementation Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the inaugural Exhibition Development Grant from the International Center of Medieval Art and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation.