(HOUSTON, TX) March 24, 2021 — Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) is pleased to present 9ja Vision: The Fiber and Mixed-Media Work of Joy O. Ude, a solo exhibition by the Texas-based artist. For millions of Nigerians worldwide, the mobile-friendly shorthand, 9ja (or naija), evokes a shared identity and culture in constant dialogue with itself–a dialogue which, like Joy Ude’s work, crosses borders and generations. Ude says, “The works included in 9ja Vision represent the interweaving of Western and Nigerian cultures, as experienced from the perspective of an American-born child of Nigerian immigrants. In each series, I combine intergenerational anecdotes, cultural commentary, and altered traditional fiber techniques to construct experimental visual narratives. Through my work, I endeavor to expand understanding of the American immigrant experience beyond a singular characterization.”
Ude’s practice is grounded in the rich traditions of West African textiles and references their material history as a backdrop for the personal, familial, and historical narratives that she weaves into her work. Combining printed wax cloth with photo transfers of family members, Ude contextualizes her personal history within a complicated material legacy of colonialism, creating embellished pieces that are both joyful and haunting. She explores this legacy further in the form of skin-lightening soaps and products, reproducing them in resin and coconut oil and draping them in hand-tatted lace, a nod to oppressive Western beauty standards as well as the presence and burden of female servile labor in historical and familial settings. Her work is also an exciting part of the enormously energetic and internationally influential fashion scene coming out of the Nigerian homeland and diaspora communities. Continue reading.