Artist: Vusumuzi Maduna, 1981 (restored in 2020)
Medium: Steel and landscape timber
“People gather strength through their roots,” Maduna said, “and it is through art that we hear our ancestral voices.” Maduna, who died in 2007 at age 66, was part of the Black Power arts movement of the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Vusumuzi Maduna was born Dennis Didley in Cambridge on Oct. 22, 1940. His mother’s parents were from Barbados, and he grew up part of Cambridge’s West Indian community. As part of the pursuit of his roots, he took a new African name, said to mean “builder of a culture.” Among his first public commissions was his 1971 “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial”, a 40-foot-long wall sculpture inside Cambridge’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Maduna’s exploration of African, Caribbean and Native American cultures also informed his art. He crafted masks and standing wood sculptures from recycled pieces of dressers, tables and other items he found on the street. His “Inner City Totem I” was restored by Cambridge Arts in 2020 by replacing rotted wooden boards that were painted to match the original; cleaning and varnishing rusted steel, and replacing worn fasteners. His related sculpture, “Inner City Totem II” is at the Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House in The Port at 71 Cherry St.
Details provided by the Cambridge Arts