The first contemporary gallery in the NCMA's new building is dominated by a woven tapestry large enough to do a Christo treatment on two sides of your house. That's impressive enough, but if you scrutinize the piece, you'll be even more amazed. It's made entirely of pristinely folded metal tops from liquor bottles, linked by minute loops of copper wire—a triumph of vision, execution and plain old handiwork. That's "Lines That Link Humanity," a piece the museum commissioned from artist El Anatsui for the building's opening.
Now the NCMA presents El Anatsui: When I Last Wrote to You About Africa, a retrospective of the artist's career. Although his work might seem to tell a compelling recycling/ reuse story, El Anatsui's concerns are primarily about the transformation of his materials, as reflected in the variety of media in this exhibition. —Chris Vitiello