Nigerian master woodcarver, structure designer, folklorist, and environmental activist Kasali Akangbe will serve as the 2013 Africana Artist-in-Residence at UNC Charlotte. During his residency from February 7 through March 12, Kasali will work on-site to create a body of works titled “Diverse Faces/Linked Fate”. He will also conduct workshops and demonstrations on woodcarving at UNC Charlotte and the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture; and will make several presentations to students, faculty, and staff on the intersections of folklore, rituals, and environmental activism in his art.
Kasali is a founding member of the Osogbo New Sacred Art School led for many years by the Austrian-Yoruba artist, priestess, and environmentalist, the Late Chief Suzanne Wenger. The art movement is credited with the invention of a Neo-Modern form in Yoruba art during the 1960s, and for using this form as part of the aesthetic, religious, and political strategies for the preservation of the 420-year old Osun Sacred Grove. Now a UNESCO’s World heritage site, it is the largest protected sacred grove in Africa.
Kasali Akangbe has participated in more than 60 exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad. His works have been exhibited in the US, United Kingdom, Austria, and Germany. He represented Africa in an international symposium in Saxony, Germany (2002) along with world renowned master carvers Eric Robert Korewha (New Zealand), Ketut Muja (Indonesia), Wayne Carlick (Canada), Wayan Mudana (Indonesia), and Gerald Moroder (Italy). His 58 Yoruba sculptures – “The Yoruba Gods: One Man’s Visions” – featured in the Edinburgh Festival in 1994 attracted raving reviews. He also took part in an Open Air Arts Installation at Leondiner Eigenart in Austria in 2001 featuring 23 Artists from around the world; and also exhibited at the Kingfisher Gallery in England. He was one of the five invited artists who designed the largest New Sacred Art Collection in the Western Hemisphere at Iwalewa House, Bayreuth University, Germany. In 1991, he was honored with the Master Image Maker award at the National Black Theater in New York.
“This is the first time since the inauguration of the program that we are hosting an international artist who derives inspiration directly from the wellspring of a classical African tradition, in this case the Yoruba Civilization of West Africa.” says Dr. Akin Ogundiran, host of the Africana Artist-in-Residence program and chair of the Africana Studies Department. He continues: “In Kasali’s Yoruba society, an artist is a philosopher, a social commentator, a preserver of tradition and memory, and also an innovator who experiments with new styles and pushes cultural aesthetics and imagination to the limits of socially acceptable forms. Kasali Akangbe has been in this role for over 40 years. We are very excited that he will be sharing his knowledge with our students and community during his visit to UNC Charlotte.”
The Africana Studies Department, in collaboration with the College of Arts + Architecture and with the support of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, initiated the Africana Artist-In-Residence program in 2009. The program’s goal is to showcase the work of artists and art critics whose original perspectives and creative energy advance a deep understanding of the experiences of Africana peoples worldwide. The artists who have been featured in the program are T.J. Reddy, visual artist and civil rights activist (2009), Tayo Aluko, an award-winning soloist and singer known for his work on Paul Robeson (2010), John Perpener III, a dancer, dance historian and scholar, and Barbara Higgins Bond, an award-winning illustrator (2012).
The 2013 Africana Artist in Residence is funded with a UNC Charlotte Chancellor Diversity Challenge grant, with additional support of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Arts and Architecture, the Office of International Programs, Atkins Library’s Special Collections, Organization of African Students at UNC Charlotte, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, and the Council for the Advancement of Yoruba Studies.
For more details, please contact Janice Casteel: firstname.lastname@example.org; 704-687-2371.