Art Historian Explores Family's Niche as Woodcarvers

by Janet Smith


The Yoruba people are found in the forest zone of Nigeria, West Africa, a place art historian and JMU Assistant Professor Dr. Aderonke Adesanya is very familiar with, having taught at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. She explains, "When one talks about Yoruba woodcarving, you are referring to a genre and a rich lens through which one gazes into the vibrant and vintage world of the people."

Adesanya's passion for the history and contemporary practice of this unique art form is manifest in her book aptly named, "Carving Wood, Making History." Adesanya's research focused on one family of artists in particular. The sculptors of the Fakeye family occupy a significant position in the history of Yoruba woodcarving and Adesanya sought to document the importance of this lineage within the emerging Yoruba art history.

Through extensive library investigation and fieldwork, Adesanya was able to explore the tradition through the vanguards of a new visual vocabulary and creators of archetypal and innovative idioms. The Fakeye represent a bridge between the past and present of the tradition and present new contexts for looking at the Yoruba art. It is her hope that students will gain tremendously from her scholarship and are inspired to undertake such productive academic engagements.

To read about more academic accomplishments, check the scholarly news section of Madison Scholar, the online journal of scholarly work at JMU.

Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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