Nnenna Okore: Osimili

Nnenna Okore: Osimili

Osimili by celebrated artist Nnenna Okore at Jenkins Johnson Gallery, California features textured wall sculptures from recycled materials. Metaphorically speaking, Osimili, the Igbo word for a huge body of water, alludes to the fluidity and volatility of life. By referencing organic elements in nature, such as roots, veins, and flora, the works highlight the complex dynamism of our cosmic existence – the animistic force that breathes life into matter. The inference to water underscores the phenomenon of transience and transformation. This exhibition will express the theatrics of movement and flow, and the subtle reflections of aging, fragility, decay, materiality and ephemerality.

The abstract sculptures comprising Osimili, surround the viewer with works extending up the walls and onto the ceiling or into the center of the exhibition spaces. The wall sculpture Ndu bu Isi (means ‘life is the genesis of all things’) made of burlap, dye and wire, refers to life. Like many of the works featured in this show, the essence of life is expressed through floral symbolism. Ndu bu Isi centers on the enigmatic and phenomenal qualities of life. Derived from the variant name, ‘Ndubisi’ that is usually borne by the firstborn males in Igbo land, it captures the notion that (patrilineal) continuity only prevails with an added (male) life; and is therefore the foundation of our existence.

According to Nnenna Okore, “I aspire to represent through the use of visual metaphor, and vibrant elements the potency and ephemerality of life and its natural cycles.” “I am interested in understanding the role that people, materials and geography play in shaping and redefining our ecological landscape.” While her works have evolved in the last decade, they continue to reveal the uniquely diverse and tactile characteristics of our shared physical world. “My goal as an artist is to find inspiration around me and inspire others.”

Nnenna Okore was born in 1975 in Australia. She holds a Bachelor degree in painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, a Master of Art and a Master of Fine Art in sculpture from the University of Iowa. Okore is known largely for her abstract sculptures inspired by textures, colours, and forms within her immediate setting. Finding reusable value in discarded materials, she  enriches her work with layers of meaning through familiar and painstaking processes. She is a Professor of Art at Chicago’s North Park University, where she chairs the Art Department and teaches sculptural practices. Okore has exhibited her work extensively, nationally and internationally and has received several awards including the Fulbright award (2012).

The exhibition runs till July 15, 2017.


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