Lifeforce VI




Akinlabi E. A. Mackall, Curator

Stanford Nyarugwe, Curation Associate

Akinsheye Brunson, Curatorial Intern

Photos by MrGPhotos


We are proud to present Lifeforce VI: SPIRIT WITHIN STONE. This sixth edition of the ever-evolving Lifeforce Collection is composed of 35 exquisite, museum-quality stone sculptures from the Shona People of Zimbabwe.


Within some cultures, stone and rock are considered devoid of life. In English, the phrases: “stone faced,” “stone cold” and certainly, “stone dead” all reflect this mindset. By contrast, the people of Zimbabwe understand that stone contains energy and dynamism. In fact, Zimbabwean sculptors and carvers say that it is the “spirit” (or essence) within the stone that reveals to them the form that each piece of art must take… and when each piece is complete.


Every sculpture in the LIFEFORCE COLLECTION has been “living proof ” that stone can represent life. It is anything but inanimate. Over the years, our LIFEFORCE COLLECTION has had great diversity with respect to artistic expression and style, size, stone color and pricing. It is however, the “life force” apparent within each piece, which has provided a powerful, unifying theme.

The Curatorial Team hopes you will enjoy reviewing the magnificent cratfsmanship of the sculptures on display in our virtual gallery.

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INSIDE Lifeforce VI

Twenty-six of the pieces are brand new. While all the stone is indigenous to  Zimbabwe, there is great variety in stone type and color. About two-thirds of the pieces have been sculpted from hard serpentine stone-types (e.g., springstone, opalstone, fruit serpentine, butter jade, et al). Their colors include slightly marbled black; a mix of browns and greens; and several are cream-colored, with marbled (veiny) green overtones. About one-third of the LIFEFORCE VI pieces are sculpted from verdite, a rare, exceptionally hard, semi-precious stone. Verdite comes in (a) deep green with lighter green and gold highlights.


Perhaps, the most significant aspect of LIFEFORCE VI, is its emphasis on human-form subjects. There are twenty-seven such pieces. Due to popular demand, this includes 25 female and male bust pieces. Artistically, these works of art epitomize Zimbabwe’s strikingly authentic, sculptural realism style. In previous exhibits, without fail, numerous attendees would express “connections” to one or another of the bust pieces. Some would say they “recognize” a relative, friend or acquaintance among those sculptures. Many others were simply taken with the artistry they saw in a certain piece. While the eyes, the hair, the ears and lips of our pieces are all skillfully carved, it is each sculpture as a whole that becomes transformative, and so personally captivating.

Additionally, two other amazing, yet quite different impressionist pieces, honor the female form in their own ways. In one springstone (black marbled) piece, artist, Edgar Sahondo offers a heartwarming image of “mother and child”. Or is it actually, a pregnant “mother with child”?

In the other sculpture, crafted from speckled green serpentine, artist Washington Msonza presents two, 3-feet tall female figures, positioned back-to-back, in elegant “dance-motion”, emerging from an earthen pedestal base. We expect that viewers of the exhibit will find the theme of LIFEFORCE VI, “Familiar Faces & Forms …Wondrous Colors & Stones,” to be quite apt.

This exhibit is completed with eight beautiful examples, from three classic Shona art traditions: two pieces of idealized plant life (impressionism); one piece of ancestral or spiritual life (abstract/creation art); and five pieces of realistic wildlife (naturalism).


Since its formation in 2002, there have been nearly five hundred works of Shona art presented via the LIFEFORCE COLLECTION; with more than 60 Zimbabwean artists contributing. Pieces have been exhibited in public and private galleries, churches, community centers, universities, unions, private homes and cultural festivals throughout New York City’s tri-state area as well as, southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. Our art has been shown, acquired and successfully shipped throughout the Unites States.


Since 2005, the LIFEFORCE collection has had a home-base in the magnificent Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center, located in the Queens, New York neighborhood of Corona.


All of the works in Lifeforce VI have been done by eight Zimbabwean master artists. Besides the previously mentioned Washington Msonza and Edgar Sahondo, we also feature, Emmanuel and Darios Chikumbirike, who contributed a total of fourteen pieces of sculpture; John and Sangster Nyakusengwa, with a total of thirteen sculptures; Josiah Chirume, four sculptures; and Simon Samhere who created one piece of sculpture in the collection.


For viewing the entire collection via our virtual gallery, the stone sculptures are presented as individual, full-page photographs. Organized by number, then by the artist’s last name and title of the sculpture, each photo page includes the sculpture’s specifications (stone type, weight, height and width).


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