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Arts of Africa

Resources for Opening Doors to the World 2017-18, featuring Arts of Africa.

Fall Exhibition

African artists Osi Audu, Olu Amoda, Ifeoma Anyaeji, Maurice Pefura, and E. Okechukwu Odita explore the complex concept of home in our global world. While acknowledging that we all are impacted deeply by the places and cultures into which we are born, these artists reveal how the notion of home can be fluid, virtual, fragmented, hybrid, or even contested.
August 21 – December 1, 2017
Carol Boram-Hays, Guest Curator
Reception:  Thursday, August 31, 5p - 7p

Osi Audu

Artist Statement:

Osi Adu Self-Portrait - The Bearded, 2015



I explore the light sheen of graphite, the matte, light absorbing quality of black pastel, the white of paper and canvas, as well as the visually affecting interactions of colors to investigate form and its evocative potential to suggest or hint at something about the shape of the head. I am interested in the dualism of form and void, and the ontological relation between the tangible and intangible, something and nothing, light and dark, body and mind, the dual nature of being - the self in portraits.

The construction of a sense of self is a very complex process, perhaps even more so in our increasingly global age, in which the boundaries between race, nationality, gender and sexuality are getting more and more blurred. I am interested in issues of self identity, and in concepts of the self rooted in my cultural experiences growing up in Nigeria, as well as global metaphysical, scientific, and social concepts of the self. There is a Yoruba thought that consciousness, referred to as the “head”, has both a physical dimension called the “outer head” and a non-physical one: “the inner head”. It is the visual implications of concepts like this that I find intriguing. The title, Self-Portrait, in my work, is more about the portrait of the intangible self, rather than a literal portrait of the artist.

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E. Okechukwu Odita

Panel 4 Njikoka Series 1982

Various theories and philosophies have served an integral part in many of Odita’s artistic experiences. Several of the artist’s thoughts are a result of his observations of both traditional and contemporary life in Africa. Awareness of the many functions and problems in the African culture has helped shape his own philosophies and ideas toward his artistic creations. Odita believes that it is very important that one is familiar with the art and ideologies of traditional African as well as those of present day culture. He finds the African background an important inspiration to any contemporary African artist, and feels that western academic art influence, as a tool, would help expand the African artists’ horizon to acknowledge many different types of media and basic elements in art expression. He believes, however, that the acquired education, or skill, will not weaken an artist’s creativity or originality.

Contemporary African artists, according to Odita, confront numerous conflicts that stand in the way of using his/her own African traditional background as inspiration and the demand of contemporary existence.

The “genuine” African artist, Odita says, is: […] caught up in a ceaseless struggle to recapture the meaningful past, to state the present and predict the future…the contemporary African artist must be many sided. He must acquire as much knowledge of his past as possible…to make a lasting statement in his work. From Foundations of Contemporary African Art

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Olu Amoda

"Amoda is renownMedium Sunflower II', 2014. Roofing nails, steel belt and mild steel pipe.ed for his technique of welding several found objects including iron to create sculptures of powerful contrasts. These objects when assembled are at once gritty and seductive, brooding and redemptive, personal and monumental. The power of his work derives from its combination of abstract shapes with pointed references to the human form while the use of other materials enhance the crisp contours and imparts a solidity typical of conventional sculpture. They are imbued with enigmatic beauty that reflects a subtle understanding of context, respect for tradition while embracing modernism and attaining a synthesis between matter and space." - From Olu Amoda: Fringe by Ladun Ogidan

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Ifeoma Anyaeji

Ifeoma Anyaeji Mmili waterArtist's statement:

Art is a limitless expressive tool of freewill. Therefore, its visual thoughts can serve to remind us that the limitation of one’s imagination is a limitation to one’s growth. And art devoid of optimistic imagination is art with limitations. As an artist, I have always had an interest in producing artworks that communicate with and integrate elements of and from my environment. This manifests in my choice of medium and style of rendition. My work is about the transitions of culture, the concept of recycling and material reuse, as a review of our cultural attitude to the ideology of product newness, value and the expiration date.
Through my works, I reflect on cultural descriptions of value and value systems drawn from elements that reflect social abnormalities. I am intrigued by process and the use of non-conventional materials as visual medium, like sand, wood and plastic, using the language of lines to transgress meaning and form and to replicate my memory of nature, the social and political. I am interested in the art of Up-cycling is to create a “new value” for that assumed to have lost its “newness”...

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Maurice Pefura


Born in Paris to Cameroonian parents, he lives and works in Milan. Maurice Pefura is an architect by training but has always centered his work on painting and installations. His research is focused on the relationship between the body and the space; that of the inner and the outer, the physical, that we are invited to share, with a particular focus on city suburbs.

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