Wednesday, April 23, 2014 9:01 PM
Photo by Wanda Jackson. Ayokunle Odeleye’s “The Three Guardians,” stainless steel sculptures stationed at the entrance of the Bunker Hill Fire Department near U.S. Route 1 and Rhode Island Avenue in Brentwood.
Published on: Wednesday, September 04, 2013
By Wanda Jackson
During his 32-year career, Ayokunle Odeleye has completed more than 20 public art commissions across the country, including “The Three Guardians,” stainless steel sculptures stationed at the entrance of the Bunker Hill Fire Department in Brentwood.
For nearly 20 years, his 25-foot-high, welded steel figure, “The Guide,” has been a community landmark, marking the grounds at Baltimore City College.
Odeleye’s most recent commissioned work is a bronze bust of famed civil rights activist W.E.B. DuBois for Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga.
An exhibition about Odeleye’s sculptures opens Sept. 12 and runs through Oct. 31 at Bowie State University’s Gallery of Art in the Fine and Performing Arts Center.
“Ayokunie Odeleye: 32 Years of Public Art” features miniature models of Odeleye’s public sculptures made of wood, bronze, stainless steel and aluminum. Drawings and photographs will reveal his perspective on the process of designing, constructing and installing his works in public spaces.
“First, in terms of legacy, the creation of monumental sculptures commissioned and owned by public institutions, provides a long-term caretaker for my artistic work and offers some promise for the sculpture to remain in the public domain far beyond my temporary presence on earth. The work in other words, provides a footprint of historical evidence of my life’s existence and speaks to my creative interest and ability,” Odeleye said.
Odeleye’s involvement in public art can be contributed to two specific areas of interest, according to his artist statement.
“Creating an iconic work through a highly competitive process that involves collaboration with a variety of stakeholders in an effort to define the history and character of the site, mark its boundary and communicate community aspirations through tangible form, is a remarkable and extremely satisfying achievement to me,” Odeleye said.
Bowie State University gallery director Clayton Lang said the exhibition will give students insights into becoming a successful public artist.
“The public art arena is lucrative, but difficult to navigate, and he’s obviously figured it out,” Lang said. “You couldn’t find a better role model for our students and aspiring artists than Ayokunie Odeleye in this specialized field.”
Bowie State University partnered with the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council to present the exhibition.
“Public art speaks to a collective reality. This exhibit is a unique opportunity to explore the intentions of public art from the artist’s personal journey to a broader conversation around community and creative place,” said Rhonda Dallas, PGAHC executive director.
The exhibition includes a public reception and artist lecture at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Gallery of Art and a panel discussion from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 30 in the university’s Recital Hall in the Fine and Performing Arts Center.
At the panel discussion, Odeleye will be joined by local award winning artists Akili Ron Anderson, a stained glass artist and sculptor; Cheryl Foster, a mosaic and stained glass artist; and, Martha Jackson Jarvis, a ceramics artist. The panelists will share their experiences in public art and images of their work.
Odeleye, a Washington, D.C., native, lives in Kennesaw, Ga., and is a senior professor of art at Kennesaw State University. He received a bachelor’s degree in art education in 1973 and master’s degree in sculpture in 1975 from Howard University. He was a teacher at Dunbar High School, The Duke Ellington School for the Arts and Howard University, and in the Atlanta area at Woodland Middle School, Spelman College and Georgia State University. He is the owner, primary designer and fabricator of Odeleye Sculpture Studios in Stone Mountain, Ga.