A Conversation with Olu Amoda, Metal Sculptor

“What we call little things are merely the causes of great things: they are the beginning, the embryo and the point of departure, which generally speaking, decides the whole future of an existence.”

This statement by Olu Amoda may in fact describe the very essence and meaning of Olu Amoda, the artist and his artwork. Olu Amoda is an artist that regularly responds to the socio-political and environmental conditions of his society and the world at large through vital sculptures executed mostly in metal. Most of his material he obtains from scrap yards and through the generous responses to ads he has placed. Like for instance, when he placed an ad for keys, and the response was overwhelming, so much so that some keys were accompanied by poems!

Olu Amoda is imaginative, he is creative, he is empathic, but he is not silent, rather he lets his art speak for him, and it speaks volumes. He is an artist!

Listen to Olu Amoda in his own words (64 mins):

His current exhibition, Template, is on display at the Skoto Gallery in Lower Manhattan, New York, through January 30. In Template, Amoda ‘explores the complex pathways of what is arguably Wole Soyinka’s most significant work, Death and the King’s Horseman.’ The play based on actual events that occurred in Nigeria in 1946, depicts some of the cultural conflicts between Yoruba traditions and western colonialism. When the king dies, Elesin, the king’s horseman, must kill himself the night before the funeral so he may accompany the king into death. But conflict arises when the District Officer in Oyo State, Western Nigeria, tries to prevent the ritual killing. Amoda tries to ‘encapsulate the spirit’, rather than illustrate or describe, ‘this Soyinka masterpiece’.

This will be his second solo at the gallery. The first, Head ‘n Tie: Fashion Architectonic, in 2007, was a cultural and aesthetic expression of the various forms and fashions of the Nigerian woman’s head-tie display, which is unparalleled anywhere in the world.

Olu Amoda is an artist, an interpreter in art form, of society’s norms, foibles, expressions, events and responses to those events. He is a metal sculptor, a muralist, a metal furniture designer, and a fabricator of gates, steel doors and windows, called ‘Doors of Paradise’ and ‘Windows of Dreams’. His works have been shown in various solo exhibitions as well as group shows and workshops around the world from as early as 1985, which may have been the year he first burst onto the scene and into the mind of public consciousness. He is also the recipient of numerous awards and acknowledgements.

He is a teacher, having been a faculty member of the Sculpture Department at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Nigeria, since 1987, and was recently a visiting Sculpture Professor and Artist-in-Residence at the Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina. All this, while maintaining an active studio practice since the beginning of his career in the early 1980s.

Olu Amoda was born in 1959 in Warri, Delta State. He obtained an HND in Sculpture from Auchi Polytechnic, Nigeria and an MFA in Sculpture from Georgia Southern University, Statesboro. His works are part of several collections and he has executed numerous public and private commissions in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

Check out Olu Amoda’s Exhibition here: Template

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