Artist Talk: Odili Donald Odita
Odili Donald Odita was born in Enugu, Nigeria, and works in Philadelphia. He is a Painting, Drawing & Sculpture Professor at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. His abstract—and often site-responsive—paintings explore the power of color in an emotional, historical, and socio-political context.
Odili Donald Odita’s dual identity has influenced works that fuse elements of Western modernism with African culture. Odita’s abstract paintings combine hard-edged bands of color with an earthy African palette in patterns that suggest West African textiles. “In my paintings, I am dealing with memory, the presence and absence of experiences removed; nostalgia for a lost past, and the hope for something new and better,” he says. In installation works and digitally manipulated imagery from fashion advertisements, Odita critiques Western consumerism and the fashion industry’s reductive representations of racial identity. His work also comments on social and political realities in his native Nigeria.
“What is most interesting to me is a fusion of cultures where things that seem faraway and disparate have the ability to function within an almost seamless flow. The fusion I seek is one that can represent a type of living within a world of difference. No matter the discord, I believe through art there is a way to weave the different parts into an existent whole, where metaphorically, the notion of a common humanity can be understood as real.” — Odili Donald Odita
This program is part of the Museum Studies Institute series, the MFA’s internal “think tank” that encompasses all of the intellectual and creative imaginings generated from, and orbiting around, an encyclopedic art museum. Art museums preserve things—art objects that represent the highest aspirations of humankind—in perpetuity. Yet we do so amid the reality of a complex and ever-changing world. Lectures by renowned experts on the history of art museums, conversations on engaging topics, and symposia examining current challenges—from climate change to inclusivity to new media—allow us to open up our internal discussions to engage our community in the conversation.
$10 for MFA Members; $20 for Not-Yet Members
Photo of Odili Donald Odita © Jide Alakija