Toyin Ojih Odutola: The UmuEze Amara Clan and the House of Obafemi
Written by Toyin Ojih Odutola, Contribution by Zadie Smith and Leigh Raiford and Osman Can Yerebakan and Amber Jamillah Musser
A seminal work by one of today’s most vital figurative artists explores the complexity of race, wealth, and class through storytelling and multimedia drawings.
This extraordinary illustrated story—Toyin Ojih Odutola’s best-known body of work—chronicles the private lives of two fictional aristocratic Nigerian families, the UmuEze Amara Clan and the House of Obafemi, if colonialist and slave-trade interventions had never disrupted the country. Rendered life-size in charcoal, pastel, and pencil, Ojih Odutola’s figures appear enigmatic and mysterious, set against the artist’s larger conceived narrative, highlighting the malleability of identity and assumptions about race, wealth, and class. The UmuEze Amara Clan and the House of Obafemi presents the story of these families in four chapters illustrated and authored by Ojih Odutola, accompanied by the artist’s sketches and notes. Also included are several insightful essays on the artist herself by noted writers and critics Zadie Smith, Leigh Raiford, and others.
An introduction to the artist’s vivid fictionalized world, as well as a reflection on the role of this body of work within her broader practice, this remarkable volume serves as the essential guide to Ojih Odutola’s unique form of storytelling.
About The Author
Zadie Smith is an English novelist, essayist, and short-story writer. Leigh Raiford is Associate Professor of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. Osman Can Yerebakan is a curator and writer based in New York. Amber Jamilla Musser is an Associate Professor of American Studies at George Washington University. Rujeko Hockley is Assistant Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Melinda Lang is Curatorial Assistant at the Whitney Museum. Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels is Director of the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.