Celebrating it’s sixth year, Dreamweek will continue to further the mission of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The weeklong event aims to promote self-expression, tolerance, diversity and equality through a series of panel discussions and events in a city that is not only growing, but full of cultural diversity.
Òlàjú Art Group, based out of San Antonio, TX, presents a rare treasure in San Antonio this Dreamweek: African art. ÒAG seeks to raise awareness about issues in West Africa through the use of contemporary art according to their website.
The organization was registered as a company in 2016 by Obafemi Ogunleye, graduate assistant at the University of Minnesota and UTSA graduate. The story of ÒAG, however, goes further back in time.
Ogunleye said, “[ÒAG] started with my time living in Nigeria. I relocated there after graduating from UTSA with an international business degree, and I was doing some teaching out there for a while. I began to engage with the arts as a way to understand my history, and I started collecting works of art.
“As the collecting became bigger, I would travel back to the US and share the work with people, and they were interested in what I had, so I sort of became a middle man, and I recognized a lack of appreciation for contemporary African art in Nigeria and outside of Nigeria. So I worked to create a platform to work with artists and for artists who want to engage with the viewer and who are trying to engage with the artist as well.”
After relocating to San Antonio to start his master’s program, Ogunleye began to network in the San Antonio art scene to include artists he worked with previously in Africa. “The selection of African artists in the city is very few, so basically all the artists I was showing are artists that are from Nigeria or other African countries. Over time, of course, I’ve started to find more artists in the city, but it’s a very small amount,” said Ogunleye.
The rarity of contemporary African art in San Antonio is reason enough to engage with ÒAG during Dreamweek 2018. Viewers and artists will have the chance to engage through art this coming weekend at events sponsored by the organization including an photography exhibition preview during the Second Saturday Artwalk at 6 p.m. on Jan. 13 at 1906 Studio and an African art market at Brick at Blue Star Complex this Sunday Jan. 14 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Perspectives from Within II, the photograph exhibition for preview on Saturday, offers the viewer perspectives through the eyes of three African artists: Logor Oluwamuyiwa, Yannis Davy Guibinga and Daniel Obasi. Oluwamuyiwa’s visual work aims to capture the forsaken, neglected and overlooked facets of life in Lagos, a city in the state with the same name in Nigeria. Guibinga’s work offers a look into blackness through her portrait-focused work through the intersectionality of social factors; Guibinga is from Gabon but based out of Montreal, Canada. Nigerian born, Obasi seeks to escape the tired stereotyped perspective of African life through his Afrofuturistic artwork.
The preview on Saturday is free and will be on full display the following day at the African art market. The Òlàjú Art Market: a Creative Arts Festival will introduce San Antonians to African art, music, food and fashion. Suggested dress code is Afro-chic. Tickets for the art market are on sale for $5. Unite yourself with African culture this Dreamweek; unity is a must for our community in this political climate. As a Nigerian proverb says, “in the time of crisis, the wise build bridges and the foolish build dams.”