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Ngozi Omeje connects from lecture hall to exhibition hall

By Japhet Alakam

AFTER several years of theoretical work as a lecturer, award-winning painter and a 2005 University of Nigeria, Nsukka graduate of Fine and Applied Arts, Ngozi Omeje is set to practicalise some of her experiences in the wider world in an ambitious new installation work entitled: Connecting Deep, an exhibition of recent work by the ceramist.

*Connecting Deep, Terra cotta& plastic

The exhibition which is in continuation of the 10th year anniversary celebration programme of the Yaba Art House, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos will bring art lovers and its numerous followers to the hall.

The exhibition which has Bisi Silva as Curator  and  Iheanyi Onwuegbucha as Associate Curator, is scheduled to open on Saturday, 8 September, 2018, and run till  9 November, 2018 at the exhibition hall of CCA, 9 McEwen Street, Sabo, Yaba Lagos.

This unique presentation which is her largest to date and her first solo exhibition, explores the elephant, a symbol of strength as well as gentleness, as a metaphor to articulate personal experiences specifically that of a departed key family member — her father.

Omeje has over the years shifted her practice from utilitarian ceramics using the potter’s wheel, to employing techniques of pinching, tying, wrapping and hanging to manipulate and experiment with clay. This shift opened up vistas and limitless artistic freedom of expression. Her current works are configured with globular clay units, clay rings, strings and salvaged flip flops from and around Nsukka. These, she uses to accentuate her place in her immediate socio-cultural context, creating the paradox of hope and despair.

Here, her body of works is a profound reflection on an often ignored reality of human existence: the frailty of life. Using terracotta pieces suspended with strings, she entraps our consciousness on a sober path of rediscovery. In this exhibition, the artist creates a single installation piece that engages the audience as co-creators. However, she invites her audience to participate not in building up of the work, but in a performative tearing down – a coup de grace.

Ngozi Omeje-Ezema graduated from the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2005, where she also obtained a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in ceramics. Among other international projects, she was a resident artist in Sevshoon Art Centre, Seattle, USA, 2010 where she created the Think Tea, Think cup art piece as a permanent installation at the centre. She has been selected for Saatchi START Art Fair 2018 and is also involved in the ongoing 60th Faenza Biennale Prize in Italy, 2018. Her ceramic installation Imagine Jonah II was part of the First International Biennale in Central China and In My Garden there are Many Colours II –first West African Art Fair ART X, Lagos, 2016. She also participated in Le Pinceau De L’Integration in Senegal, during the Dakar Biennale, 2016.

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