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North Carolina Museum of Art Presents New Outdoor Sculpture

Work by Yinka Shonibare MBE adds color and whimsy to Museum Park

Work by Yinka Shonibare MBE adds color and whimsy to Museum Park

Raleigh, N.C.—The North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) has acquired a new work to be installed in its 164-acre Museum Park. The 20-foot-tall sculpture, Wind Sculpture II, by British-born artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, will be installed on May 5, 2014. The sculpture features bright colors and distinctive textile patterns and is the second work by Shonibare in the NCMA’s permanent collection.

Wind Sculpture II is one of Shonibare’s first large-scale outdoor works and was recently featured in his career retrospective exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England. Describing these new works, Shonibare says, “They are trying to express movement and dynamism, to capture the volume of wind three-dimensionally. The wind introduces an element of the organic into the sculptures, so they are not simply about artificial materials. Each one is formulated by blowing wind into the actual fabrics and then photographing them, so in a way the shapes have been formed by nature” (Yinka Shonibare MBE: FABRIC-ATION exhibition catalogue).

Wind Sculpture II is made from glass-reinforced polyester fitted to a steel structure. The surface of the sculpture is made of pigmented resin layered with paint that Shonibare stenciled on in designs based on a colorful fabric pattern. Shonibare designed and created the work in London.

“Wind Sculpture II will be a wonderful international addition to the Museum Park. Aesthetically, it will animate the landscape with color and a sense of motion,” says Dan Gottlieb, director of planning, design, and Museum Park. “We chose to install it in a particular location to create long sight lines from above and below the Park’s ridge—regardless of what direction a visitor is walking. When visitors approach the sculpture from below the ridge, it will invite them up the trail, silhouetted against the sky, reinforcing the artist’s intent to capture the wind’s movement. From above the ridge, the sculpture will be a colorful exclamation against the surrounding forest green.”

Born in London to Nigerian parents, Yinka Shonibare MBE grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, and later returned to England to study fine art at Byam Shaw School of Art and earn his MFA at Goldsmiths College. Since the 1980s galleries and museums worldwide have hosted exhibitions featuring Shonibare’s work, including those in London, Copenhagen, Jerusalem, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, and Dallas. In 2005 Shonibare was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.

Known for his figurative sculptures that use Dutch wax cloth (popular throughout Africa) to explore cultural identity, Shonibare here transforms a wisp of the same fabric into a playfully monumental sculpture that captures the wind like a giant sail. In reference to his use of distinctive textile patterns in his work, Shonibare says, “None of us have isolated identities anymore, and that’s a factor of globalization ultimately. I suppose I’m a direct product of that. The fabrics I use look like they could be just African, because they are used a lot there. But what you see on the surface is not really what you always get. The fabric has a complicated history in its trade routes: it was originally designed as an Indonesian fabric, produced by the Dutch, and the British sold it into the African market. It’s a perfect metaphor for multilayered identities” (Artforum, April 2013).

Wind Sculpture II, along with the other Shonibare sculpture in our collection, serves as a crucial point of intersection among diverse histories and regions,” says Linda Dougherty, chief curator and curator of contemporary art at the NCMA. “Both sculptures demonstrate the Museum’s effort to acquire works that diversify the collection, expand cultural and regional representation, and enhance visitor experience.”

About the North Carolina Museum of Art

The North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, making the institution one of the premier art museums in the South. The Museum’s collection provides educational, aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural experiences for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond. The 164-acre Museum Park showcases the connection between art and nature through site-specific works of environmental art. The Museum offers changing national touring exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, and concerts.

The Museum opened West Building, home to the permanent collection, in 2010. The North Carolina Museum of Art, Lawrence J. Wheeler, director, is located at 2110 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. It is the art museum of the State of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, governor, and an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources, Susan Kluttz, secretary.

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