OMOLIGHO UDENTA: USING FLOWERS AS METAPHORS
Omoligho Udenta was born in 1968 and graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Industrial Design from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1989. She also earned a Masters degree in Art History from the University of Lagos and is currently pursuing a PhD in Industrial Design from her alma mater.
Udenta presently lectures at the Graphic Design Department of the Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH), Lagos and she recently had a solo exhibition–Dust and Petals at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos where she used flowers as a metaphor for humanity.
What inspired the theme Dust and Petals and why your choice of flowers as a leitmotif?
Dust represents the cycle of life to me—Dust we are and to it we shall return. These works use petals and flowers as a metaphor for humanity in its varied journey. I find that I am drawn to foliage and flowers. I am still in the process of figuring out why, but I think I may be attracted to them because although they may have no voice, they show when they are affected by environmental or other factors. They respond clearly for instance, when they are well nourished or not, and when they have enough sunlight or not. This is unlike man who is adept at masking his thoughts and emotions.
Humans attribute characteristics to flowers. They respond almost spontaneously to flowers. I wanted to create flowers that embodied my messages.
As a graphic artist, why did you choose this route closer to craft?
As someone who has worked in various capacities as a graphic artist, animation artist, non-linear video editor, writer, along with being a mother and wife, I find that all my past lives have found a way to merge in an ever evolving blend as a visual artist. I continue to explore new ways to express myself and I am always thrilled at every new opportunity and discovery. This body of work hopefully tells the story about who I am and what I do and love.
Can you tell us about the work process?
My work tends to focus on nature and the passage of time, and in the process of cutting and piecing together the few hundred or so petals it took to make some of these flowers, I was given the opportunity to meditate on the process of creation. Being made in the likeness of God, the greatest Creator, and therefore, created a creative being, I have often pondered upon and marvelled at the magnificence and occasional ‘awkwardness’ of some of His creations. I have, for years, been fascinated by parallels and interrelationships between all things nature. The Chinese seem to be in the forefront of expounding theories about physical attributes and their relationship with the character or nature of the individual. I remember reading a book when I was about ten years old about the relationship between facial features and the character or future of an individual. For years, I went around estimating how long people would live based on how large their earlobes were, and trying to determine if there truly was a correlation between facial features and character.
What kind of paper did you work with and what techniques did you employ?
I worked predominantly with cardboard and crepe paper. The techniques used depended on the kind of flower I was trying to create and the material I was working with: sometimes I pinched, folded and cut.
How do your works convey/represent the human situation and other overlooked issues?
Works like Emotions gives a floral interpretation of three emotions –the light, the crimson and the dark. These open up the discourse about the various aspects of each of the emotions, and the often overlooked fact about the way we feel about something, or someone. This goes a long way in determining our perception of that said thing or person.
Can you tell us more about Eve Metamorphosed?
Eve Metamorphosed II an installation was about the good Eve on her wedding. Every woman arguably evolved from the first woman, Eve, and thus quite possibly still has the same thoughts, desires and flaws as she did. There are many paths free will allows the Eve to take. This installation illustrates the good path.
The work was inspired by a desire to represent the various tribes of Nigeria in fabrics. They are all together as one piece but variations or various configurations can be produced.
How will your works be maintained and survive humidity and dust since they are mostly delicate paper, fabrics and jute?
They can be housed in transparent acrylic sheets generally known as Perspex or glass boxes or box framed.
What advice do you have for female visual artists who have not been able to practice their profession?
It can be particularly challenging especially if you have a family to care for but work you must. Make a plan, visit exhibitions and save. I work between 2am and 6am because it is when I can.
What is next for you?
I am working on completing my studies.
Image credits: Omoligho Udenta
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