Syncretic Birthrights brings together a series of both new and previous work from painter and illustrator Odera Igbokwe. Central to Igbokwe’s work is the idea of possibility and transformation, especially for QTBIPOC communities. These works are part of a continuing collection that blend together Nigerian and afro-diasporic folklore and traditions, reclaiming and recontextualizing them into a series of syncretized paintings reflecting the many ways culture becomes harmonized within one’s identity while still responding to communal needs of storytelling and connection within art. Their paintings celebrate sexuality and gender variance in the face of postcolonial homophobia through vibrant colours, and mythological figures presented with striking grace and speaking towards an unwavering spirit of Black resilience, joy and magic.
Odera Igbokwe (they/them) is an illustrator and painter located on the unceded and traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Odera was born of Igbo parents who immigrated to the lands of the Lenape people. As a result they are constantly excavating, responding, and envisioning in spite of the fractures that occur via diaspora. Their artwork is an exploration of storytelling through Afro-diasporic spiritualism, Black resilience, magical girl transformation sequences, and redefining the archetypal hero’s journey. More specifically, they are intrigued by Nigerian spiritualism, folklore, and sacred practices, and how that relates to contemporary communities across the Americas.
Their artwork weaves together ancient narratives with Afrofuturist visions to explore present day embodiment. It explores the magic of the Black Queer imagination, and questions how to build a home from an intersectional lens. Ultimately these works are a gateway to healing from collective and generational traumas, and assert that healing can be a celebration of joy, mundanity, pain, and fantasy coexisting. As an artist, Odera works with clients and galleries to create work that is deeply personal, soulful, and intersectional. They have created personal works and commissions for Beyoncé, Solange Knowles, Oumou Sangaré, and Dawn Richard. Odera’s work has been exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology at UBC, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, grunt gallery, Burrard Arts Foundation, The James Black Gallery and SUM Gallery.
Image: The Volcano by Odera Igbokwe. Courtesy of the artist.
This exhibition is curated by Whess Harman.
A companion catalogue for the exhibition with curatorial text by Whess Harmon, and exhibition response by Nya Lewis.
Visual description available: Plain Text, Audio.
A free printed copy is available in gallery while supplies last.
Odera Igbokwe’s artist talk. Link opens on vimeo with English captions and transcript via google docs.
Summary: Artist talk with Odera at the opening of their solo exhibition on May 12th, 2023.
Creative Access Audio Tour:
Creative Access Audio Tour of the exhibition. Link opens on SoundCloud (external link).
Listen to a visually described tour of Syncretic Birthrights, written by Kay Slater and Keimi Nakashima-Ochoa, and Christina Kim. It is narrated by Kay Slater.
English transcript available: Google Doc, Plain Text, PDF