Tribal Arts Society gives cultural taste

Thanks to the University of Miami Tribal Arts Society, it’s no longer necessary to leave campus to experience the world. Founded in 1987, the organization gives a taste of different cultures through monthly lectures about the art of various tribal and world cultures at the Lowe Art Museum.

At Wednesday’s lecture at the Lowe, the Tribal Arts Society highlighted the Japanese culture with their presentation “Japanese Woodblock Prints and Impressionism: Precursors to Modern Art.”

Guest lecturer Joel Hollander, a UM art history professor who specializes in 19th and 20th century art, made the audience laugh when he compared Japanese artwork to life on South Beach.

“The way we are so into that kind of thing today is similar to the way the Japanese were into their thing,” Hollander said.

Not only did the society introduce elements of Japanese art to the Lowe Art Museum, but in order to give attendees a more complete experience, it served sushi rolls and other assorted Japanese foods.

“I hadn’t heard of [the society] until tonight, but I’m really glad they came because I enjoyed the event,” sophomore Nora Hannon said. “It seems like all the people here were really interested in the topic.”

When it was founded 23 years ago, the Tribal Arts Society was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation in 1989 by Dorothy Downs, a University of Miami Masters graduate in the arts. The society sponsors a series of lectures and programs to enhance knowledge and appreciation of art pertaining to culture in Africa, North and South America, Asia and the South Pacific.

“The purpose of the Tribal Arts Society is to be a support group of the Lowe Art Museum and the University of Miami,” Downs said.

The Tribal Arts Society’s next event, “Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats,” will take place in February.

“A lot of students should be interested because they cover a lot of issues about diversity that can be applied to various subjects like anthropology, archeology and various other disciplines,” said Dr. Ed Rappaport, a psychologist at the Student Health Center who has been a member of the Tribal Arts Society for 15 years.

Rose Aviles may be contacted at