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Recent Acquisitions: Toyin Ojih Odutola

Toyin Ojih Odutola produces intimate portraits that trouble generalized identity markers and explore the human form as landscape. Early in her career, she developed a unique mark-making method with ballpoint pen that gives her subjects’ skin a richly textured—and literally black—appearance. The artist has said that with this technique she aims to emphasize “the specificity of blackness, where an individual’s subjectivity, various realities, and experiences can be drawn into the diverse topography of the epidermis.”

In Birmingham, a suite of three prints representing the artist’s brother, Ojih Odutola creates a sense of shifting perspective relative to her subject, moving around him in space to capture the familiar contours of his face and to suggest the multidimensionality of his being. The prints are based on photographs the artist took in Birmingham, Alabama, and were produced through a method known as lithography, a water- resist process by which images are drawn onto stone or metal plates in oil-based crayon, then inked and transferred to paper. The addition of gold-leaf detailing elevates the subject’s ordinary white tank top, bringing a regal dignity to the portrayal.

Ojih Odutola created this work during her 2014 residency at the Tamarind Institute, a renowned printmaking workshop in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that offers one of the world’s only master training programs in lithography. The Museum purchased Birmingham from Tamarind in 2018 through the generosity of an acquisitions gift from the Seattle Art Fair, which was intended to support the Museum in expanding and diversifying its contemporary holdings.

Recent Acquisitions is a biannual series highlighting works that have been gifted to or purchased for the Frye Art Museum’s permanent collection.
Relevant research areas: North America, Contemporary, Lithography

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