Nigerian artist to present talk on uli today in Port Townsend
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Megan Claflin
Chuu Krydz Ikwuemesi, a painter, art critic and cultural entrepreneur currently in residence at Centrum, develops his piece “Crumbling Wall.” The Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall in Port Townsend will host Ikwuemesi on Thursday as he shares images and stories from his experience with classic uli art.

PORT TOWNSEND — Resident artist Chuu Krydz Ikwuemesi will present in the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, 2333 San Juan Ave., at 7 p.m. today.

A painter, art critic and cultural entrepreneur, he will present the multimedia lecture “Reviving Tradition: Uli Art of Nigeria.”

The talk is free and open to all ages.

Distinguished by strong lines and rich earth tones that balance positive and negative space, “uli” is the name given to the traditional designs drawn by the Igbo people of Nigeria, according to a news release.

Rites of painting

Uli is often painted spontaneously by women, who would decorate each other's bodies with dark dyes to prepare for village events such as marriage, title taking and funerals.

Designs would sometimes be produced for the most important market days as well. Paintings also adorn homes and community buildings.

The drawing of uli was once practiced throughout most of Igboland, but since Western influences began to affect traditional village life, the art form began to fade away.

Today, it is kept alive by a handful of contemporary artists, like Ikwuemesi, the news release said.

First saw it in 1990s

Ikwuemesi was first introduced to uli body and wall painting in the early 1990s.

While researching uli as a creative idiom in contemporary Nigerian art, he ventured to find classicists of the art.

An associate professor in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ikwuemesi is in residence at Centrum until Tuesday thanks to Sally Rodgers and Centrum's donors who provide scholarship funding.

Last modified: April 23. 2014 7:04PM
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