Over 30 years as an active artist, I have shown my work in over 20 solo exhibitions, and nearly 100 group exhibitions throughout the US, as well as in Lithuania, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, Australia, New Zealand, and Mali. Highlights include The Global Africa Project at the Museum of Arts and Design (2010-11) and Women Facing AIDS at the New Museum (1989) as well as Have We Met?, a major installation at Colgate University ( 2007). My wall installation, Negelan is in the permanent collection of the American Embassy in Mali. Permanent public sculptures include Most of Us Are immigrants at the Islip Museum on Long island and Granary in the city of Segou, Mali in collaboration with Segou artists. *******
I am the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and artist residencies, including a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship to Mali in 1994-5 and a grant from the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid. I am currently a Fulbright Senior Specialist. *******
An artist-scholar, I have curated exhibitions, published articles and catalogs, and lectured at conferences, universities, and community venues. Recently published is my chapter in Contemporary African Fashion published by Indiana University Press and an essay published in Poetics of Cloth, the catalog for the exhibition of the same name shown at NYU.
My life experiences play an integral part in the development of my work. A master welder, I work in three dimensions as well as on paper, on the floor, on walls, and suspended from the ceiling, indoors and outdoors.
I have a 35 year relationship with Africa, especially with Mali. Since my 1995 Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship, I have spent several months every year engaged in a wide variety of cultural projects including collaborations with Malian artists. My wall installation, Negelan, is in the permanent collection of the American Embassy in Bamako, Mali.
My thinking about recycling has been influenced by long commitment to Africa where materials are used for many creative purposes. My work has often been constructed from the outtakes from past sculptures and the negative forms of my own scrap steel.
My work combines energy, abstract and classical forms and ideas as well as ages old motifs and skills. It records and reflects human scale, labor, body ornaments, utensils, community and traditions as well as the new. It is quiet and open at the same time. My work achieves a unique cohesion where themes recur and overlap, appear and disappear, then reappear in altered form.
The interplay of texture and pattern combines with an off-kilter geometry that gives my work a special immediacy and excitement. My sculptures thrive on small tensions between light and shadow, positive and negative, organic and precise, playful and serious, political and personal. I create my often-poetic steel sculptures using a welding torch as a drawing instrument, cutting images and sometimes text into them.
Most of Us Are Immigrants combines language and objects to make conceptually-based public art that takes the whole city as its site.
Roberta Smith, The NY Times, August 8, 1997