Sixteen Crowns is on display at the City Gallery until August 28.
Sixteen Crowns: Manifestations of Ase
is one heck of a long title for an art exhibition, especially when the word Ase (pronounced ah-say) refers to something as deeply complicated as the power to call things into existence. Co-curated by College of Charleston professor Dr. Ade Ofunniyin and PhD candidate in art history Jody Berman, Sixteen Crowns
features works that reflect beliefs of the Yoruba people, men and women from southwestern Nigeria and Benin.
"This is largely my collection," Ofunniyin says of the pieces in the show, works that range from paintings to textiles to dolls. "It's come together after 15 years of work." Ofunniyin calls himself a conceptual artist, transforming the space with various pieces of art.
Orisanmi Kehinde Odesanya has created over 200 small-scale figures to represent Yoruba deities.
"The exhibit is a platform to talk about Yoruba and African identity," he says. "Yoruba has been demonized and misinterpreted." Ofunniyin describes voodoo, a word that falls under that category of misinterpretation, as essentially, worshipping God. "Juju is a West African word that implies the same thing," he says. "Like so many things of African origin, it has been bastardized over time."
Tomorrow, Sat. Aug. 6, Ofunniyin will give a curator's talk at City Gallery at 2 p.m. that will explain more about Yoruba art, and even about his personal journey with it.
"My quest, for as long as I can remember myself, is to identify as an African person," says Ofunniyin. Part of showing African work, he says, is helping the descendants of African origin appreciate themselves again. "When you can bring beauty [into it], you can use these forms to help people appreciate that they are magnificent."