Public Artist’s Retrospective in final week at MOCA GA; Ayokunle Odeleye at MOCA GA
After 32 years creating public sculpture, Ayokunle Odeleye reflects on the responsibility of art in the public domain
By Rosalind Bentley
Ayokunle Odeleye saw the older woman watching him from across the street, but he kept working.
Years before, he had forged the towering monument “Spirit, Family and Community,” a gleaming bronze sculpture on a corner in the Peoplestown neighborhood. The piece was created as part of the public art program meant to spruce up pockets of Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics.
But it had been a while since the Olympics, and it had been a while since the bronze looked lustrous, so Odeleye (pronounced Oh-da-LAY-yay) was out polishing it.
“Hey, hey, take your hands off that,” Odeleye remembers the older woman yelling at him.
“I’m the artist, I did this,” Odeleye replied, and he pointed to his signature at the base of the piece for emphasis.
“Unhuh, yeah, I don’t care, that’s our art, so get your hands off it,” the woman said.
That’s when Odeleye knew that, tarnished or not, as a work of public art the piece was a success.
“When you do a piece of work that people find valuable and meaningful they protect it,” Odeleye said recently. “And when you’re a public artist you really are a contractor of community identity.”
An artist knows that once he creates a work of art specifically for the public domain — no matter how connected he might feel to the piece — once it’s placed in a community, in many ways it’s not really his anymore, signature or not. As one of the nation’s most prolific public artists, Ayokunle Odeleye is clear on that. ...
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Ayokunle Odeleye at MOCA GA
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA) had been on my radar for quite some time, but I just got around to it this past weekend. And what a great experience! So great, that I went twice in the same day!
I arrived at the Museum, on the well-known antique shop-laden Bennett Street in Buckhead, and was welcomed with enthusiasm and was provided ample detail about the Museum and its current exhibition. I learned about the upcoming exhibition on the way out (more on that in a moment). ...
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