As part of Nasher10, a celebration of the first decade and beyond, the Nasher Museum commissioned two large-scale murals by abstract painter Odili Donald Odita. His wall painting inside the Nasher Museum’s Mary D.B.T. Semans Great Hall, entitled Shadow and Light (For Julian Francis Abele), is inspired by the African-American architect who designed most of Duke’s campus. Odita’s wall painting visually connects the Nasher Museum to downtown Durham, where he painted a second mural on the Foster Street wall of the Downtown Durham YMCA, 218 W. Morgan Street. That painting, entitled Time Bridge, was inspired by the city of Durham, which is, according to the artist, “a city that has an awareness of the complexity of its individual interests, and at the same time is open to allow those interests to thrive together as a community.”
Odita was born in 1966 in Enugu, Nigeria, and lives and works in Philadelphia. His abstract paintings explore ways to trigger memory and address the human condition through color, pattern and design.
“We are very proud to bring Odili Donald Odita to Duke to kick off the celebration of our amazing first decade and the decades to come,” said Sarah Schroth, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum. “His beautiful, abstract wall paintings demonstrate a rare use of color and pattern executed through a rigorous process. Odita’s colors reflect his vision from his travels around the world. His painting inside the museum will visually connect with a monumental wall painting in downtown Durham, symbolizing our enthusiastic commitment to the community.”
Both of Odita’s mural projects inspired educational initiatives and public programs that have strengthened the museum’s ties to Duke and the community in new ways.
In a partnership with Durham School of the Arts, the Nasher Museum created Nasher Teens, a group of high school art students who served as tour guides and educated the public about Odita and his murals.
Read the artist’s statement.
The mural at the Downtown Durham YMCA was unveiled on Oct. 10 at a block party at 218 W. Morgan Street. This temporary exhibition will be on view through summer 2019.
Listen to an interview with artist Odili Donald Odita by Tyler Green on the Modern Art Notes Podcast, a weekly interview program published each Thursday at 3 PM.
Listen to an interview with artist Odili Donald Odita and Chief Curator Trevor Schoonmaker by Frank Stasio on “The State of Things” on WUNC (91.5).
Read a story about Nasher10 and the mural projects in IndyWEEK.
The Making of a Mural
Odili Donald Odita, Shadow and Light (For Julian Francis Abele), 2015. Acrylic latex paint on wall, dimensions variable. Commissioned by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
Odili Donald Odita, Time Bridge, 2015. Acrylic latex paint on wall, dimensions variable. Commissioned by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo by J Caldwell.
Both murals by Odili Donald Odita are commissioned by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Both murals are made possible by the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts and Council for the Arts Visiting Artist Program of Duke University; the Winifred Johnson Clive Foundation; and Elizabeth Hitchins Quigley and L. Matthew Quigley. Additional generous support is provided by Nasher Annual Fund donors.