Skoto Gallery is pleased to present Transmogrification, an exhibition of recent mixed media sculpture by the Nigerian-born artist Ifeoma Anyaeji. This will be her first solo show at the gallery. The artist will be present at the reception on Thursday, September 26th, 6-8pm.
My works are about up-cycling and material reuse, in review of our cultural attitude to the concept of product newness, value and expiration date, as well as social responsibility to the environment. In creating these works I reflect on the cultural prescription of value and value systems, particularly from my home country Nigeria. My concept of material reuse through the transformation of an object’s physical state, is to echo the environmental implication of accumulation and the extensiveness of a politicized archaeology of modernity’s consumptive system. The discarded plastic bags and bottles, two common environmental pollutants, are the main media with which I visually express the narrative of a domestic object’s possible transition from the discarded to the aesthetic or functional. This I conceive by creating a complexity of sculptural forms that allow for multiple interpretations of the functionality of an object after it has been consumed. I envisage a multiplicity of uses while retaining the physical state of the discarded object. As an artist I am constantly intrigued by craft processes. Therefore, my work incorporates the processes of a communal hair plaiting technique from my home country, Nigeria, called Threading. Using this hair craft technique, otherwise termed “old fashioned”, I am able to extend the functionality of these discarded plastic bags and bottles beyond covers and packaging. I beautifully transmogrify their physical appearance by braiding the bags into Plasto-yarns, using these to create objects that reference architectural forms and domestic furniture. My repetitive process of Threading and choice of medium are reminiscent of the domestic lifestyle and accumulative nature of the average consumer. The works, which sometimes are displayed as installations, are conceptual and appear organic; presenting non-biodegradable medium, like plastic (Polyethylene) bags and bottles, as otherwise. - Ifeoma Anyaeji
Ifeoma Anyaeji was born 1981 in Benin City, and hails from Anambra State in the south eastern part of Nigeria. She obtained an undergraduate degree, with honors from the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria in 2005 before traveling to the US in 2010 as a Ford Foundation International Fellow where she obtained her MFA in 2012 at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University, St Louis, Missouri. She has participated in several solo and group exhibitions both at home and abroad, including ‘Reclamation’, University of Missouri, Columbia in 2012. She was the Washington University in St Louis Nominee for the 2012 International Sculpture Center Outstanding Student Achievement Award. Her work is in several collections in Africa, Europe and the US. She currently teaches at the University of Benin, Nigeria.
"Working primarily with the ubiquitous plastic grocery bag, emblematic in its reference to both consumption and waste, Ifeoma Anyaeji’s weaves dense, sculptural tapestries that reclaim both material and process. Using a Nigerian hair braiding technique to coil the bags, they are bound together using artisan practices of basketry and textile weaving--low-tech, manual practices that are often communal in nature. Colors from the bags’ industry branding and marketing logos are bound and partitioned to create undulating patterns and waves of thick materiality. Dizzying in their congested space, at times the patterns read as aerial views of smog-filled manufacturing sites, the wrapped and coiled plastic milk jugs creating multiple smokestacks of varying heights, each embedded in a swirling landscape of commercial activity. The circular patterns then shift, simultaneously becoming ephemeral, dreamlike scapes of water, clouds, and natural formations. In this, the pieces point to both problem and solution, reflecting attitudes of both indignation and hope.