The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs presents Sixteen Crowns: Manifestations of Ase at the City Gallery at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Waterfront Park from July 15 through August 28, 2016. An opening reception will be held on Friday, July 15 from 5-7pm. A curatorial lecture by Dr. Ade Ofunniyin and Jody Berman will be held Saturday, August 6 at 2pm. These events are free and open to the public.
Sixteen is the number of the cosmos. According to Yoruba belief, when the world was created, it spread out from an original palm tree that stood at the center of the world with sixteen branches, forming the four cardinal points and the sixteen original quarters of Ile-Ife. Sixteen Crowns: Manifestations of Ase amplifies the grace, majesty, and beauty of an ancient culture as reflected through art and performance, presenting paintings, drawings, textiles, and sculptures by Yoruba artists. The selected works, co-curated by Dr. Ade Ofunniyin and Jody Berman, reflect a system of belief and virtue that has sustained millions of Yoruba men and women throughout the African diaspora, from those who survived the middle passage to the Americas where they were enslaved, to those who continue to seek out and find comfort, courage, genius, and strength through connection and communication with the divine.
The timing of the exhibition coincides with the international prominence and universal acknowledgement and appreciation of Yoruba people and their contributions to human kind, including an extensive visit to the United States by His Imperial Majesty, the Ooni of Ife in June, 2016. Sixteen Crowns: Manifestations of Ase examines the artwork of eleven artists of the Yoruba diaspora, and anticipates a more ambitious exhibition in the future that will include performance and experiential elements beyond the walls of the gallery.
The works selected for this exhibition include sculpture, paintings, beadwork, and tapestries by Yoruba artists Yinka Adeyemi, Olusegun Agunsoye, Orisanmi Kehinde Odesanya, Onabamiiero Ogunloye, Fawele Okunle, Ojo Kunle, Ilor Mayor, Adeniji Adeyemi, Gbenga Makinde, Odusina Taiwo, and Yaw Shangofemi Owusu.
About the Curators
Dr. Ade Ofunniyin
The work selected for exhibition in Sixteen Crowns is mostly from the personal collection of Dr. Ade Ofunniyin. Dr. Ofunniyin is an Ifa priest and anthropologist; he conducts research in the Yoruba diaspora. Dr. Ofunniyin, through his organization Gullah Society, supports communities of artists in Osogbo and Ile Ife, Nigeria by providing art supplies, financial support, and opportunities for the exhibition of their works. Dr. Ofunniyin holds a Chieftaincy title, Orisagbala in Ifon-Orulu Kingdom, Osun State, Nigeria, West Africa. He is an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston, Charleston, SC. His current research focuses on the Africanisms in Gullah Geechee language and traditions.
Jody is a PhD candidate in the field of Art History, at the University of Florida. She wrote her Masters thesis on Charleston blacksmith, Yaw Owusu Shangofemi, an apprentice of the late Philip Simmons. She has taught at Brooklyn College and managed Laurence Miller Gallery in New York City. After living in New York City, Jody returned to Gainesville to pursue her PhD in Art History under Dr. Robin Poynor and Dr. Paul Ortiz. Jody’s present research focuses on African American Art and History. She is working on her dissertation, Race, Humor and Subversion in the work of Five Artists. She has presented her research at several conferences including the 2015 International Summit on Human and Civil Rights in Atlanta.