Nkata: An Installation by Nnenna Okore, installed at Krannert Art Museum, 2015. Photo by Julia Nucci Kelly
On View
Aug 28, 2015–Dec 23, 2015
Main Level, Contemporary Gallery

Chicago-based artist Nnenna Okore has received international acclaim for installations in which she reconfigures organic or discarded materials into abstract, richly textured forms of extraordinary range and nuance.

Exhibition sponsored in part by the Krannert Art Museum Exhibition Support Fund


Okore is keenly sensitive to the rhythms and contours of everyday life. The repetitive acts of stitching, twisting, rolling, or weaving; the familiar sounds of sweeping, chopping, talking, and washing all deeply inform her aesthetic, as they signal both transience of human labor and its inevitable mark on the material world.

For her project at Krannert Art Museum, Okore will build on her recent investigations into the revelatory properties of burlap—a modest material that she frays, dyes, and transfigures into monumental, diaphanous forms that tumble and cascade from the gallery walls. Indeed, these works are not merely installed in the space; they “inhabit” it—an experience enhanced by the integration of a video projection into the installation that reflects Okore’s experiments with the sensorial and spatial translation of materiality into sound and light.

Okore’s enduring interest in the sound and metaphoric power of language inspires the installation title Nkata, an Igbo word meaning “conversation” and “basket.” Both are containers of sorts, whether of meanings or things, and both take form, like Okore’s art, through the entanglement of fibers, voices, and narrative strands.

Nnenna Okore is professor of Art at North Park University, Chicago, where she teaches Sculpture and the Contemporary Arts of Africa. She earned her BA degree in Painting in 1999 from the University of Nigeria where she studied with the artist El Anatsui, and her MA and MFA in Sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2004 and 2005.

Okore has received several awards and has been shown in numerous galleries and museums internationally. Most recently she was recipient of the Fulbright Scholar Award, for which she spent a year in Nigeria teaching at the University of Lagos and producing new works.



Curator: Allyson Purpura, senior curator and curator of Global African art