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Geoffrey Nwogu collaborating with the African American Art and Culture Complex

Award: $35,000 Traditional Arts Grant awarded in 2005

Project closed: December 2006

Collaborating with the African American Art and Culture Complex, Nigerian sculptor Geoffrey Nwogu created a bas relief sculpture to be installed permanently at the Complex. The sculpture–or “Mbari Wall”–intended to capture the form and colors of a typical Mbari house–from the Igbo tradition and philosophy–a painted clay house containing seated family figures. The Mbari wall was designed to present three-quarters of a typical Mbari house with most of the figures and all of the colors and designs in tact.  Unlike a traditional Mbari, made of ant hill clay, the bas relief was constructed in contemporary sculptural material.

Seeking to deepen public appreciation of African art and culture, the artist engaged young students attending after school programs at the Complex  in helping with the creation of the Mbari wall and documenting its development. Tragically, the sculpture was dropped and shattered during its installation. The artist and nonprofit had not spent $7,700 of the grant–intended for related programs after its installation–and returned those funds to the Creative Work Fund.

Geoffrey Nwogu was born in the Imo State of Eastern Nigeria.  He trained as an artist under his father and grandfather, working mainly in wood.  Since 1966, he has shown his works in galleries and museums throughout the world.

The African American Arts & Culture Complex is one of several neighborhood cultural centers overseen by the San Francisco Arts Commission and committed to serving the city’s diverse arts community.  The Complex fosters a commitment to service and activism through Afro-centric artistic and cultural performances, exhibitions and programming.