Time Bridge, 2015
ArtisT: odili donald odita
LOCATION: 218 W Morgan Street
(Downtown Durham YMCA)
Odili Donald Odita explores pictorial space through color, line, and pattern. His abstract paintings combine unique designs with vibrant colors that mirror the cultural complexity of the world today and seek to trigger memory and personal reflection in the viewer. Time Bridge is one of two wall paintings by Odita commissioned by the Nasher Museum of Art in celebration of its ten-year anniversary. It was inaugurated on October 10, 2015 with a community block party and documentary film screening.
While researching the layered history of Durham, Odita found that the community was a “melting pot of sorts; a place that is open to different people who are willing, ambitious, and ready to expand upon their ideas and projects. I see Durham as a city that has an awareness of the complexity of its individual interests, and at the same time is open to allow those interests to thrive together as one community.“ This concept of promise and prosperity paired well with Odita’s oeuvre and own family history.
Odita was born in Enugu, Nigeria, and brought to America by his parents when he was only six months old, right after the Biafran War (Nigerian Civil War). He was raised in the Midwest and found that assimilation was an important aspect of postmodern America. With an educated African background, he lived through the tension and psychological devastation of being black in a country that, more often than not, defines identity according to one’s race. Thankfully, Odita’s strong sense of Nigerian identity was kept alive through family traditions, including stories told by his parents, the collection of African art and artifacts in his home, and his family’s constant reminders of their African roots. With an art historian for a father, Odita grew up reflecting upon two separate layers of aesthetic understanding: one intrinsic to his birth language and roots, and the other adopted and learned through American culture and everyday life. This dichotomy has become an important aspect of Odita’s work.
After spending the year of 2015 researching, visiting, and exploring the rich histories of present and past Durham, Odita decided that a large kaleidoscopic mural in the heart of Downtown would best represent what he learned about the city. He wanted to capture the multi-dimensional history of Durham as well as the vibrant, hardworking determination of its people through the visualization of time passing and converging, and with a warm and varied color palette. Through this mural he seeks to remind both visitors and residents of what has continued to make Durham unique; that no matter the difficulties faced, the people of Durham have continued to press on with strength and ingenuity, inspiring others in neighboring cities and across the country.