6 PM Mountain Time
Her name is Chika Udok.
Udok is a Nigerian visual artist living in
Her work speaks to crises affecting
“El Anatsui was born 1944 in Anyako, Ghana. El earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sculpture and a Postgraduate Diploma in Art Education from the University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. He is Professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he has lectured since 1975. He exhibited at the 1990 Venice Biennale, where he received an honorable mention and was included in the Johannesburg Biennale in 1995 as well as the Gwanju Bienniale, Gwanju, South Korea, 2004.
"His most recent solo exhibition Gawu has toured Europe, Asia and North America. He is included in the anthology exhibition Africa Remix, which has toured Dusseldorf, London and Paris and will travel to Tokyo and other cities in 2006/7. His work is in numerous public and private collections including: Asele Institute, The British Museum, Centre Pompidou, de Young Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum Kunst Palast, The Newark Museum, Nigeria National Art Gallery, Segataya Museum and the Smithsonian Institution.”
In 1993 I visited an artists’ workshop in Nairobi while visiting my father’s home country.
I saw there why so much of what passes in the West for Afrikan art is such absolute garbage. In little more than a hallway of a chop-shop, an assembly-line of men hacked pieces of wood into animal forms such as giraffes and rhinos, eventually smoothing them before finishing them with felt markers. Similar shops made “tribal masks” and other patronising, hackwork kitsch.
Sure, I could blame Western buyers and the media culture that made them think such “rustic” feebleries were the best the continent had to offer. But I had to admit, so long as the supply existed, the demand would not dry up. If someone made money from the stereotype, the stereotype could never die.
And that’s the kind of junk you’ll see at many pavilions representing Afrikan countries in the upcoming Heritage Days Festival in Edmonton. Whereas pavilions for other countries will display hundreds of finely-wrought wooden and metal sculptures, many of the continental displays will be peddling items that belong in the trash.
My advice: never buy that stuff. Ask the vendors to bring in higher-quality work. And when you see beautifully-made art, support the sellers, and support the artists.