Making Meaning from a Fragmented Past: 1897 and the Creative Process
Peju Layiwola, artist, Professor of Art History and head of the Department of Creative Arts at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, shares her expertise in the history of bronze casting in Benin, the legacy of the 1897 punitive expedition, and the fight for restitution. Layiwola’s work is inspired by history and her dual heritage (Yoruba and Benin).
Free with admission.
Presented in collaboration with RISD’s Office of Social Equity and Inclusion along with Sculpture and Theory and History of Art and Design Departments.
Peju Layiwola earned her BA in 1988 at the University of Benin, Benin City; an MA and PhD in Art History at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 1991 and 2004 respectively. She has followed her mother, Princess Olowu, daughter of the late Oba Akenzua II of Benin, in a career as an artist, adding art history to the mix. Layiwola’s work, in a variety of media ranging from metalwork and pottery to textile and sculpture, addresses diverse strains of the postcolonial condition. She focuses on personal communal histories which centralize Benin as both an ancient kingdom and a contemporary city. In Layiwola’s teaching, writing and art, there is continuous engagement with themes of artifact pillage, repatriation, and restitution; history, memory and cultural imaginary; gender and cultural heterodoxy; and the continually mutable processes of production. Her work moves from the emotive space of art pillage in Africa captured in previous solo exhibitions: Benin 1897.com: Art and the Restitution Question (2010): Return, Raw (2018) into a more flowery engagement with cloth and its multiple significations.
Through the non-profit organization, Women and Youth and Art Foundation (Wy Art), Layiwola founded in 1994, she has instituted practical interventions and initiated new pedagogical methods that extend beyond the academy into local communities.
Layiwola is a member of the board of the Lagos Studies Association and President elect and Vice President of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA), USA. She is a recipient of several international grants and has extensive academic publications.