Sheer Audacity is a theatrical play of movement, flow, and sound created by Nnenna Okore (b. 1975).
Made from burlap that she frayed to create yards of lightweight and gossamer fabric, Okore then leaves the bundles of cloth to stiffen and dry for hours. Her time-consuming process of working the material echoes the rigorous and repetitious nature of daily tasks, from sweeping and cooking to hair braiding, she experienced during her formative years in Nigeria.
The resulting sheets of textiles that cascade down into the rotunda bear traces of branches, vines, roots, veins and shriveled skin. The organic forms are not only dynamic, but also reflect her creative philosophy, which focuses on the uncontrollable force of our earthly existence.
“Deep within its core,” Okore states, “my works reflect the transient qualities of birth, life and death. In an attempt to capture and reference these cosmic spectacles, metamorphoses, and forces of life, I titled the piece, Sheer Audacity: ‘Sheer’ is embodied within the delicate and skeletal gauziness of the fabric, and ‘Audacity’ evoked through the reckless and boundless boldness of the amorphous structures within the installation. To further stress the potency and energy of the piece, I used the color red to heighten the viewers’ visual and sensorial experience.”
Okore, who is Australian born and Nigerian raised, is currently a Professor of Art at Chicago’s North Park University, where she teaches sculpture. She earned her BA in painting from the University of Nigeria and an MA and MFA in sculpture at the University of Iowa. In addition to numerous national and international awards, she received the prestigious Fulbright Scholar Award in 2012. Okore has participated in more than 90 solo and group exhibitions in the last decade.
Organized by Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
Watch this timelapse video of the installation by The Commerical Appeal's Mike Brown.