WASHINGTON DC – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art is sponsoring a two-year-long celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. The largest and most ambitious undertaking in the museum’s history, Nigeria: Then, Now and forever begins this fall and continues through 2011. It includes exhibitions, public programs and special events showcasing the culture, arts and people of Nigeria. First Lady of Nigeria Hajiya Turai Umaru Yar’ Adua and educator and philanthropist Camille Cosby are co-chairs.

Highlights of the celebration include a mid-career retrospective by Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare, a film festival, the premiere of a new dance by The Washington Ballet’s Andile Ndlovu and a series of special events with U.S. and African leaders in the fields of art, entertainment, business and government.

Yinka Shonibare MBE, a mid-career exhibition of the Nigerian-born artist, includes the media of painting, sculpture and installation, photography and moving images. Exhibited works encompass the last 12 years of Shonibare’s career with a focus on recent works juxtaposed with historical works. Yinka Shonibare MBE is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia.


Meet Yinka Shonibare;

Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in 1962 in London, England. After growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Shonibare studied at Byam Shaw School of Art, London (1984–89) and earned an MA from Goldsmiths College, London University (1991). Known for using batik in costumed dioramas that explore race and colonialism, Yinka Shonibare MBE also employs painting, sculpture, photography, and film in work that disrupts and challenges our notions of cultural identity. Taking on the honorific MBE as part of his name in everyday use, Shonibare plays with the ambiguities and contradictions of his attitude toward the Establishment and its legacies of colonialism and class. In multimedia projects that reveal his passion for art history, literature, and philosophy, Shonibare provides a critical tour of Western civilization and its achievements and failures. At the same time, his sensitive use of his own foibles (vanity, for one) and challenges (physical disability) provide an autobiographical perspective through which to navigate the contradictory emotions and paradoxes of his examination of individual and political power. Among his awards are the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) (2005); a fellowship at Goldsmith’s College (2003); and the Art for Architecture Award, Royal Society of Arts (1998). Shonibare was nominated for the Turner Prize (2004). His work has appeared in major exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California (2009); Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, (2005); Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2004); and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2004), among others. He has participated in international events including Documenta (2003); Spoleto Festival, Charleston (2003); and the Venice Biennale (2001). Yinka Shonibare MBE lives and works in London.

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