The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture is a New York-based summer residency program for emerging visual artists. Founded in 1946, it brings together each year “a diverse group of individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to artmaking and inquiry, creating the most stimulating and rigorous environment possible for a concentrated period of artistic creation, interaction and growth.”
Here is the citation for El Anatsui.
EL ANATSUI (F ’07) is an internationally acclaimed artist who transforms simple materials into complex assemblages that create distinctive visual impact. He uses resources typically discarded such as liquor bottle caps, printing plates and cassava graters to create sculpture that defies categorization. His use of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation, and an intrinsic desire to connect to his continent of Africa while transcending the limitations of place. His work can interrogate the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice.
Anatsui is well-known for large scale sculpture composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of metal sourced from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. These intricate works, which can grow to be massive in scale, are both luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated yet malleable. He leaves the installations open and encourages the works to take different forms every time they are installed.
In 2015, he was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, the Venice Biennale’s highest honor. In 2019 Haus der Kunst presented a wide-ranging traveling survey of his work titled El Anatsui: Monumental Scale, curated by Okwui Enwezor and Chika Okeke-Agulu and accompanied by a catalogue published by Prestel. Anatsui was born in Ghana and currently lives and works between Ghana and Nigeria.
Four artists will join in presenting the 2020 Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture to El Anatsui: the writer, filmmaker, art historian, and novelist Nana Oforiatta Ayim; the Munich-based curator Damian Lentini; the installation artist Abigail Deville, who will introduce him; and Princeton art professor and author Chika Okeke-Agulu, who contributed an essay on him.
Folio Nigeria congratulates El Anatsui.
Otosirieze Obi-Young is Editor of Folio Nigeria, where he profiles innovators and facilitators in culture: art, business, entertainment, activism, health, food. He is a writer, journalist, curator, media consultant, former academic, and Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Open Country Mag, a new online platform covering African literature. In 2019, he received the inaugural The Future Awards Africa Prize for Literature. In 2020, he was named among "The 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians" by Avance Media. Find him on otosirieze.com or on Twitter & Insta: @otosirieze.