ogidi

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Hello Everyone! I know that it has been a while but Itan project lives. Over the past six months I have been traveling in Nigeria learning the traditional Yoruba arts of weaving, dyeing and woodcarving. I have had the incredible opportunity to work with incredible artists at the Nike Centers For Art And Culture, an organization founded by the legendary artist Chief Nike Okundaye.  Chief Nike has provided arts training for underserved Nigerians for over thirty years. She has not only fostered the Nigerian arts community, she has helped to revive the Yoruba arts of Adire , and Aso Ofi (women’s loom weaving). Art as a source of cultural empowerment is one of the core facets of Itan Project and It has been an honor learning here from such an amazing woman.  As I reach the midway point in my residency with Arts Connect International, I reflect on my experiences and their impact on my perception of identity and the nature of my work. Spending time in Osogbo and Ogidi has made me think about the relationships that exist between Africa and the Diaspora and the common challenges that we face as Black people in both contexts.  In both Africa and in the Americas there is  a struggle to recover from the internalized effects of colonialism, slavery and generations of racially biased and/or exploitative systems. In Nigeria many of these arts face extinction as their value is questioned.  The work I create is meant to encourage viewers to examine their perception of the African past and their relationship to it, while also attempting to highlight even a fraction of the immense beauty and complexity of Yoruba art and culture .  Over the next five months I will be  posting updates on the project as well as the collaborative work I am doing within these artists communities. Stay tuned there is more to come!

Prof. Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe To Be Buried May 23, International Committee Set Up By SaharaReporters, New York

Africa’s most widely read writer, Chinua Achebe, will be buried on May 23, 2013 in his hometown, Ogidi, in Anambra State, Nigeria. Achebe died on March 21 at a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts after a brief illness. He was aged 82.

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Nike Davies-Okundaye: A Retrospective

Nike is a Nigerian batik and textile designer, considered to be the foremost designer on the west coast of Africa. She was brought up amidst the traditional weaving and dying as practiced in her home town of Ogidi, Kogi State, in North Central Nigeria, though she has become known for a modern approach to traditional themes in her colourful batik and paintings. Over the past twenty years she has given workshops on traditional Nigerian textiles to audiences in the United States and Europe. Finding that the traditional methods of weaving and dying that had been her original inspiration were fading in Nigeria, Davies set about launching a revival of this aspect of Nigerian culture, building art centers offering free courses for young Nigerians to learn traditional arts and crafts.  Nike has more than 150 students in Europe and America.

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Dedicated to the Cultural Preservation of the African Aesthetic

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My Time in Ogidi-Ijumu came to an end yesterday. With the indigo pit finally ready I was able to dye the threads and the textiles I was preparing over the previous weeks. For so many people Nigerian (and by extension all west african) textiles bring to mind wax print ankara cloth, but for me and the other artisans at the Nike Art Center in Ogidi  the ancient arts of  Adire Oniko Adire Eleko, Aso-ofi and Aso-oke are at the core of the long and rich tradition of adornment. I would like to thank Mrs. Agnes Umeche for being such a patient and fantastic teacher I cant wait to share what you have taught me with students in the U.S.A!

If you had been poor in your last life I would have asked you to be rich when you come again. But you were rich. If you had been a coward, I would have asked you to bring courage. But you were a fearless warrior. If you had died young, I would have asked you to get life. But you lived long. So I shall ask you to come again the way you came before. If your death was the death of nature, go in peace. But if a man caused it, do not allow him a moment’s rest.
— 

Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart