Athena LaTocha and Wura-Natasha Ogunji
EXPO CHICAGO Online
April 8 – 12, 2021
Fridman Gallery presents new works on paper by Athena LaTocha and Wura-Natasha Ogunji. Both artists interact with paper through unconventional processes. LaTocha’s works employ purely organic materials – sumi ink, shellac, earth and ash to create new geological forms, while Ogunji's abstract paintings bring the viewer into a liminal, futuristic dreamlike space.
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Ogunji's paintings are an extension of her performance practice, exploring endurance, and gestures of the body, and our relationship to geographical space.
Wura-Natasha Ogunji is a visual artist and performer. Her works include drawings hand-stitched into tracing paper, videos and public performances. Her work is deeply inspired by the daily interactions and frequencies that occur in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, from the epic to the intimate. Ogunji's performances explore the presence of women in public space; these often include investigations of labor, leisure, freedom and frivolity.
Recent exhibitions include the Stellenbosch Triennial’s Tomorrow There Will Be More of Us; Alpha Crucis at Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo; and A stranger’s soul is a deep well at Fridman Gallery, New York. She was an Artist-Curator for the 33 rd São Paulo Bienal where her large-scale performance Days of Being Free premiered. She has also exhibited at: the inaugural Lagos Biennial; Kochi-Muziris Biennale; 1-54 London and New York; Seattle Art Museum; Brooklyn Art Museum; and Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.
Ogunji is a recipient of the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and has received grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Dallas Museum of Art; and the Idea Fund. She has a BA from Stanford University [1992, Anthropology] and an MFA from San Jose State University [1998, Photography]. She currently resides in Lagos where she is founder/curator of the experimental art space, The Treehouse.
Watch Ogunji speak in depth about how Lagos, Nigeria serves as inspiration for her work:
LaTocha uses the power of weather and time to develop the intricate textures and undulating surfaces of her works, often employing unusual tools such as shredded tires, bricks, and stones to further distress her compositions.
Her smaller series of studies were made while she was in residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in 2019. The earth and moss embedded in the pieces come directly from the natural environment of the Mississippi delta.
Athena LaTocha's massive works on paper explore the relationship between human-made and natural worlds and incorporate materials such as ink, ash, lead, earth, and wood. LaTocha uses the power of weather and time to develop the intricate textures and undulating surfaces of her works, and often employs unusual tools such as shredded tires, bricks, and stones to further distress her compositions. Inspired by her upbringing in the wilderness of Alaska, her works are also informed by the mark-marking and displacement of materials made by industrial equipment and natural events. LaTocha’s immersive process responds to the storied and, at times, traumatic cultural histories that are rooted in places such as the Mississippi River, New York's World Trade Center, or the Trinity Site in New Mexico.
LaTocha has exhibited in institutions across the country, including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts; CUE Art Foundation; Artists Space; South Dakota Art Museum; New Orleans Museum of Art; and the International Gallery of Contemporary Art in her native Anchorage, Alaska. In 2019, she had solo exhibitions at JDJ | The Ice house in Garrison, New York; the Plains Art Museum in Fargo, North Dakota; and the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
LaTocha is the recipient artist grants, residencies and awards, among them the Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2019 and 2016, Wave Hill in 2018, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in 2013. LaTocha received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and MFA from Stony Brook University, New York.
Watch LaTocha's artist talk made for her recent exhibition at Olin Art Gallery, Washington & Jefferson College: