David Krut Projects presents Twist and Turns, Nnenna Okore’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. The title of the exhibition draws attention to the sense of dynamism and movement in this selection of Okore’s most recent sculptures – continuing her exploration of material through a laborious hands-on creative process gleaned from the traditions of West African art making.
Raised in Nigeria, Okore’s affinity for tactile and gristly elements from the semi-urban environs of Nsukka in south-eastern Nigeria, have inspired a body of works that broadly focus on transformation and regeneration of mundane ecological and man-made objects. Through visual subtleties, she is able to present the fluid and delicate attributes of the physical world, triggered by aging, death and decay. She embraces biodegradable materials laced with memories and histories of her past; and submits to the use of several organic forms delicately articulated in an interwoven manner to reflect the quintessence and mystery of life cycles. The familiar yet abstract sculptural forms rely heavily on materials including newspapers, cloth, plaster and hessian, which were acquired mostly in her Fulbright year abroad. These materials metaphorically reference social, historical and environmental interconnectedness of our collective experiences as mortals.
By default, Okore responds to the movement and malleability of her mediums and processes, allowing them to lead her. Her drawn-out processes of threading, fraying, tearing, teasing, twisting, rolling, layering and dying are derivative of domestic Nigerian tasks that she mastered while living in the country. Through her work, she reveals impermanent earthy attributes of organic and twisted forms. Her intuitive approach to process begets intricate and unhindered layers of the process and materials. The undulated nature of Okore’s work further accentuates the extraordinary panoramic dance between the art and the gallery’s unique ambience. The result is an intriguing display of spellbinding ethereal forms.
Nnenna Okore is an Associate Professor of Art at North Park University, Chicago, where she teaches Sculpture. She has received numerous international awards and been exhibited in many prestigious venues, including October Gallery, London; Museum of Art and Design, New York; Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil; and Art Twenty One, Nigeria. She received the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award in 2012, which resulted in a year-long project in Nigeria. Her works and interview were recently featured in the July/August 2013 issue of Sculpture Magazine.