When I had Nnenna Okore’s first show in New York in 2007, I could not describe her as an internationally acclaimed artist. I am happy to say that in the last five years she has indeed become and artist who has gained an international reputation in the United States, England, France, Denmark, Brazil and, of course, her native Nigeria.
Nnenna's works on paper and bark seem to draw inspiration from the physical world and natural shapes. Her ceramic works impart more human manipulation and a more deliberate sculptural form. In a Zen-like way each technique accentuates what the other is and is not.
We have heard much about the cycle of life and just as often the end of that cycle is not portrayed or, if so, not in a beautiful way. Nnenna exalts the beauty of aging and even deterioration in a way that brings beauty to all that nature offers us. She offers it in the way-of-the-artist — compelling us to look more closely.
The veins in a leaf claim an intricacy that can take the breath. The filigree that Neanna captures with burlap and cloth give nothing less in beauty and intricacy than would a similar process in gold. Do we have reverse alchemy here?