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Sometimes African art plays a part in this, as when a religious cult or a chief or a guild employs distinctive artifacts as a mark of uniqueness.
Similarly, there are full-time and part-time artists; there are artists who figure in the political establishment and those who are ostracized and despised; and some art forms can be made by anyone, while others demand the devotion of an expert.
African art, the visual arts of native Africa, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, including such media as sculpture, painting, pottery, rock art, textiles, masks, personal decoration, and jewelry.
For more general explorations of media, It is difficult to give a useful summary of the main characteristics of the art of sub-Saharan Africa.
It may be a field of well-hoed yam heaps (as, for example, among the Tiv people of Nigeria) or a display ox castrated in order to enhance its visual effect (as among the Nuer and Dinka pastoralists of South Sudan) that constitutes the significant work of art in a given area of Africa.
The popular notion of art in the West, however, is very different, for it is thought to comprise masks and very little else—except, perhaps, “local colour.” This misconception has been enhanced by the aforementioned European concept of fine art, but it may have originated in a dependence, during the first period of Western interest in African art, upon collectible artifacts—some of which (pieces of sculpture, for instance) fitted neatly into the category of fine art, while others (such as textiles and pottery) were dismissed as craftwork.