Tuesday 15 November 2011


With Hibernation and Rejuvenation, Awoh tests strength
(First published June 8, 2008)

FROM the claws of grief, Stella Awoh who, over the years, has moved from one genre to the other opened her solo art exhibition few days ago.
Iya ni Wura (Mother is Wealth)

   Awoh must have derived the theme of the exhibition, Hibernation and Rejuvenation from career experience and her private life.
  As the show opened on Saturday, June 7, and ends on June 17, 2008 at Didi Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos, another stage is being recorded in the artist’s journey from the point she decided to move out of her first love, fashion design. But the challenge of a solo outing, she said, is nothing to be scared of, but "another experience."
  Having gone through some experimentation and worked with a vast medium, this show, she stressed, offers her the opportunity to test her strength in the mainstream art gallery.
  Before the show opened, Awoh disclosed that the dark days of her private life gave way to a new beginning when she set out on the journey into the print medium.
  Having set out to learn the rope of print, particularly foiling, from the master, Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Harmattan Workshop in Agbarha- Otor, Delta State, Awoh’s thoughts on the theme "is about a period of sober reflection,
  A lady of many parts: fashion, event management and writing. This much of creative depth awaits visitors at the exhibition in the next one-week.
Hibernation and Rejuvenation

  The title work, Hibernation and Rejuvenation, a representational that explains what it takes to go through a trying period as seen in a pregnant figure, Awoh said, is a process everyone must go through to reach rejuvenation. “It was the sight of this oncoming joy which will translate into a bright, beautiful morning that necessitated the title of this collection: Hibernation and Rejuvenation”
  Having expressed her thoughts in a book she wrote about widowhood recently, the exhibition further provided an opportunity to use her creativity to share some of these feelings.
  Perhaps an indirect access into her private life was an abstract one, she seemed to express in Searching for Love. The artist, a widow though explained that the work is in solidarity with everyone in need of love, she however argued that true love, particularly for most widows is hard to come by.
   Rather than sincerity, men, she stressed, like to take advantage of one’s situation, thereby adding to the frustration.
  And rather than settle for frustration just because the society demands that the woman must have a partner (husband), Awoh in another related work, Peace Like Rivers, voted for her rest of mind. The work, a foil print of a bird in flight against the ground that provided an illusion of three dimensions, was one of Awoh’s efforts that, in her own right, unveiled a print artist to watch.
    Within the same context, a revisit to marital ritual comes in Ijo Agbala (Dance in the Garden) an impressionistic painting of maidens who take to the dance floor in buba (blouse) and iro (wrapper) costumes with gele (head-wrap and tie), must have been searching for love as well. “In my Igala culture, this is the period for maidens to pick their life partners."
 In Ori Ti Agbe Wa S’Aiye (Destiny), the artist explained the need to move on from the past. She argued that “no matter our efforts, destiny plays a greater role in one’s life.”    
  The work, which depicts the coming of a child into the world from the mother’s womb, also speaks volume of the risk man takes from birth to death. 
Stella Awoh
  As a patriot and concerned citizen who share in the dilemma of a nation with a lot of paradox, the theme of the exhibition must have built the Nigeria question in context. Her words: “I think I fall into this group whose deep concern about the goings-on in the society form the basis for artistic expression. I was also a victim of fate, as I struggled in the claws of grief, trying to wriggle out of a darkened day. An artist is like a pregnant woman; her impressions and personal experiences would always form embryonic tissues in the womb of her mind and until she is delivered of this baby, she struggles in labour wherever she goes.
     •Awoh is the head of the Fashion Design Department, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos.

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