In the News

LOU'S VIEWS: Ife sculptures at IMA paint a thousand words
Indianapolis Business Journal
By LOU HARRY | Published: July 16, 2011
I love a good creation story, and the Yoruba people of the ancient city of Ife, in what is now Nigeria, have a doozy. It involves a god indulging in a bit too much palm wine, a snail-shell full of soil, a chameleon, and a chicken (with five toes).

You can Google the story if you’d like, but what matters is that creativity and spirituality are central to the culture of the Yoruba—a people who believe the world was created in their own back yard. While the Europeans were cloak-deep in their medieval period, the Ife were creating remarkable sculptures in copper alloy and terra cotta. And more than 100 of these pieces are on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s new show, “Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria.” Read More

Review: Dynasty and Divinity at IMA
By DAVID HOPPE | Published: July 9, 2011
The first work of art you encounter upon entering this exhibition of historic works by Yoruba people in what is now Nigeria and the Republic of Benin is, perhaps, the most memorable: a seated figure with one leg propped up, the other folded under, projecting a serene dignity reminiscent of the Buddhist divinity Kwan Yin. What makes this figure extraordinary is its creator's mastery of copper alloy and the way the metal has been modeled to create the soft illusion of flesh. You want to touch this piece, but there's also a temptation to sit and try to get on its contemplative wavelength.

Dynasty and Divinity consists of over 100 pieces of sculpture done in copper alloy, terra-cotta and stone that, for the most part, were created in the West African Kingdom of Ife (pronounced EE-fay) between the 12th and 15th centuries. Read More

IMA's Dynasty and Divinity exhibit
Indy Star
Published: July 2011
Preview the Indianapolis Museum of Art's new Dynasty and Divinity exhibit featuring IFE art in ancient Nigeria with an introduction from Elizabeth Morton, the visiting curator for Dynasty and Divinity. Watch the Video

IMA exhibit offers peek at life with Africa's Yoruba
Indy Star
By JAY HARVEY | Published: July 6, 2011
The largest and most inclusive display from the ancient spiritual home of Africa's Yoruba people ever to tour the West will go on view at the Indianapolis Museum of Art on Friday. "Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria" has just three other stops on its U.S. tour -- Houston, Richmond, Va., and in a still-to-open New York City museum. That museum, the Museum of African Art, organized the display of 104 items with the Fundacion Botin of Santander, Spain, collaborating with the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments. Read More

From Nigeria, Dynasty and Divinity
Architects + Artisans
Published: September 7, 2010
When first discovered in the early 20th century, Europeans thought that the brass sculptures they found buried in various sites in Nigeria must certainly have been Greek or Roman in origin.

They were wrong.

“Metal casting was practiced in many places in Western Africa and flourished in one small city known as Ife in the 12th to 15th centuries,” said Enid Schildkrout, chief curator and director of exhibitions and publication at the Museum for African Art in Manhattan. “It’s still practiced there today. It’s a thriving small center. The ruler still has his palace in this town.”

Ife is the home of the Yoruba people, and the center of the diaspora of those people around the globe from the 1500s to the 1800s.Read More

Kingdom of Ife at the British Museum, review
The Telegraph
By RICHARD DORMENT | Published: March 1, 2010
About half way through the British Museum’s astounding 'Kingdom of Ife: Sculptures from West Africa’ we come across two small freestanding terracotta heads, each representing a victim of human sacrifice. Made near the Atlantic coast of what is today Nigeria between 1100 and about 1400 AD, they are only around six inches in length and by no means the most sophisticated or refined works on view. Read More