Artist Blog

A. Odeleye _Judge John Scott Bust

Ayokunle Odeleye sculpts bust of Fredericksburg Circuit Judge John W. Scott Jr.

Judge John Scott Bust

Judge John Scott Bust

A bust of former Fredericksburg Circuit Court Judge John W. Scott Jr., the area’s first black judge and a civil rights pioneer, was unveiled Monday during the dedication of the city’s new courthouse.

Scott, a Fredericksburg native, was appointed a judge for the General District Court in Stafford County in 1989, becoming the first black judge in the region.

In 1996, he was appointed to the circuit court, sitting primarily in Fredericksburg. He died in April 2008 at the age of 59 following eye surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The Fredericksburg Courthouse at 701 Princess Anne St. opened on Aug. 5. The 85,000-square-foot building cost $23.8 million. It houses the general district and circuit courts and has three stories, plus a basement where the Fredericksburg Sheriff’s Office is located.

Scott’s bust is located on the third floor along with the circuit courtrooms. It was crafted by Ayokunle Odeleye of Odeleye Sculpture Studios in Stone Mountain, Ga.

Scott graduated from James Monroe High School, then earned his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University followed by a law degree from the University of Virginia.

His first legal job was for the Legal Defense Fund of the NAACP and then joined Hill, Tucker & Marsh, a law firm in Richmond known for civil rights work.  Scott served as president of the NAACP’s Fredericksburg branch from 1981 to 1989, when he took his first judgeship. Scott had been instrumental in plans to modernize the city’s court facilities.

When the new courthouse was completed in August, renovations began on the former General District Court building. It is being renovated to house the juvenile and domestic relations courts. Those courts currently operate in the Executive Plaza building on Caroline Street.





DC Native Sculptor Showcases 32-Year Public Art Career

Bowie State University Brings Nationally Acclaimed Artist to the Region

(Bowie, Md.) – August 26, 2013 – A Bowie State University art exhibition showcasing the sculptures of Washington, D.C. native Ayokunle Odeleye will detail how he produced monumental structures that have defined communities across the country over his 32-year public art career.

“Ayokunle Odeleye: 32 Years of Public Art,” co-presented by the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council, will run Sept. 12 – Oct. 31 in the Gallery of Art in the Fine and Performing Arts Center.

Miniature models of Odeleye’s public sculptures made of wood, bronze, stainless steel and aluminum will be the centerpieces of the exhibition. Drawings and photographs will reveal his perspective on the process to design, construct and install his pieces in public spaces. By collaborating with architects, engineers, and community representatives, he creates “contemporary architectural markers of community identity,” Odeleye said.

Gallery Director Clayton Lang said the exhibition will give BSU students insights into becoming a successful public artist. “The public art arena is lucrative, but difficult to navigate, and he’s obviously figured it out,” Lang said. “You couldn’t find a better role model for our students and aspiring artists than Ayokunle Odeleye in this specialized field.”

Odeleye has completed more than 20 public art commissions, including “The Three Guardians,” stainless steel sculptures stationed at the entrance of the Bunker Hill Fire Department in Prince George’s County, Md. “The Guide” is a 25-foot-high, welded steel figure marking the grounds at Baltimore City College high school for nearly 20 years, becoming a community landmark. His most recent commissioned piece is a bronze bust of famed civil rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois for Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Ga.

As part of the exhibition’s opening reception, art lovers will hear from Odeleye about his experience in public art on Tuesday, Sept. 17. A panel discussion on Wednesday, Oct. 30 will engage award-winning local artists in sharing their experiences in public art and images of their work.

“Public art speaks to a collective reality. This exhibit is a unique opportunity to explore the intentions of public art from the artist’s personal journey to a broader conversation around community and creative place,” said Rhonda Dallas, executive director of the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council.

The exhibition events are:

  • “Ayokunle Odeleye: 32 Years of Public Art” Exhibition
    Thursday, Sept. 12 – Thursday, Oct. 31
    Gallery of Art, Fine and Performing Arts Center

    Gallery Hours:
    Monday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Tuesday 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    3-5 p.m.
    Wednesday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Thursday 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    4-7 p.m.
    Friday 12-7 p.m.
    Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Opening Reception
    Tuesday, Sept. 17 5:30-6:45 p.m. Reception
    7-8:30 p.m. Lecture by Ayokunle Odeleye

    Gallery of Art, Fine and Performing Arts Center

  • Panel Discussion on Public Art
    Wednesday, Oct. 30, 6-9 p.m.
    Panelists:
    - Akili Ron Anderson, stained glass artist and sculptor
    - Cheryl Foster, mosaic and stained glass artist
    - Martha Jackson Jarvis, ceramics artist
    - Ayokunle Odeleye, sculptor
    Recital Hall, Fine and Performing Arts Center

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ABOUT BOWIE STATE UNIVERSITY
Bowie State University (BSU) is an important higher education access portal for qualified persons from diverse academic and socioeconomic backgrounds, seeking a high-quality and affordable public comprehensive university. The University places special emphasis on the science, technology, teacher education, business, and nursing disciplines within the context of a liberal arts education. For more information about BSU, visit the website at www.bowiestate.edu.





Artist Ayokunle Odeleye with his W.E.B Dubois Bust

Making History: Kennesaw State Professor Ayokunle Odeleye creates bronze bust of famed scholar W.E.B. Du Bois for historic Clark Atlanta University conference

Making History

CAU officials unveil bronze bust of W.E.B. Dubois by Kennesaw State Professor Ayokunle Odeleye, at right.Kennesaw State Professor Ayokunle Odeleye creates bronze bust of famed scholar W.E.B. Du Bois for historic Clark Atlanta University conference

 

It took two months, a cadre of Kennesaw State technicians, artists and students and many sleepless nights for Professor Ayokunle Odeleye to ready a bronze bust of noted scholar W.E.B. Du Bois for its public debut: a Feb. 23 unveiling at the ““W.E.B. Du Bois and the Wings of Atlanta 50th Anniversary Commemorative Conference” at CAU.

The 3.5-foot, 800-pound bronze bust of Du Bois sits atop a nearly 4-foot concrete pedestal near the entrance of the quadrangle in the center of CAU’s campus.  It commemorates the life and work of Du Bois, a scholar, activist, educator, historian and writer who, among his many accomplishments, cofounded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During his tenure at the former Atlanta University, he wrote his most prominent book, “The Souls of Black Folk” and completed what some consider his best historical scholarship.

It was important to get this right, says Odeleye, who knows well the value of public art projects of this magnitude. Among the 22 public art projects he has created around the country, the Du Bois statue ranks alongside a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. he was commissioned to create in Pensacola, Fla., some 20 years ago.

Odeleye was commissioned to create the Du Bois bust for the conference, held 50 years after the scholar’s death in 1963. The interdisciplinary conference was the culmination of a year-long series of seminars on Du Bois at the institution where he spent 23 years ─ from 1897 to 1910 and 1934 to 1944. It brought together 140 panelists from 50 institutions to “return the legacy of Dr. Du Bois,” says Stephanie Y. Evans, chair of CAU’s Department of African-American Studies, Africana Women’s Studies and History and conference organizer. Evans and CAU President Carlton E. Brown commissioned Odeleye for the project.

“It was critical that we celebrate and commemorate the life and scholarship of Dr. Du Bois here at the HBCU where he served for 23 years and that we do so in a manner worthy of his stature,” Evans said.  “We didn’t have to look far to find a superb artist with the skill and expertise to create a special and lasting tribute here on the CAU campus, and someone who would work within our budget and time constraints.”

It was those constraints that guided the process and resources Odeleye employed at KSU to complete the mutli-stage project, which evolved from clay to wax to bronze.  Before it was completed, two Kennesaw State technicians, three faculty — all artists and sculptors — and five students contributed to the project.

The process began with Odeleye’s research on Du Bois and a careful study of dozens of photographs of the famed scholar over many years of his life. Coming up with a consolidated image was no small task considering Du Bois’ look was always changing, Odeleye said.

“Sometimes his mustache was curved, sometimes straight, sometimes he had a beard and sometimes not, and the suits he wore were completely different in 1904 and 1920.”

Once he settled on the image, the first step was to create a clay portrait, called a pattern, at his studio in Stone Mountain, Ga. That involved building a skeletal structure in Styrofoam and covering it with a steel skeleton. Sculpture student William Darnell worked with Odeleye over the winter holidays to pack the bust with almost 400 pounds of oil-based clay.

Once CAU’s Evans and President Brown reviewed and approved the clay pattern at the studio, the bust was moved by truck to the Kennesaw State sculpture studio with the help of 15 Clark Atlanta University students and students from the KSU Sculpture Club. The bust was separated into seven sections and cast in wax under the direction of shop technician Page Burch. Kristin Fox, a recent Kennesaw State graduate, senior Rachael Kidd, and Colin Skees also assisted.  The wax sections were welded back together into a bust so it could once again be approved.  The wax bust was again cut into seven sections, cast in a hard, solid resin-bonded sand and baked in a kiln, creating a negative space into which the hot liquid bronze could be poured. The bronze sections were then reassembled into one piece and finished.

Etienne Jackson, a Kennesaw State adjunct professor and sculptor who has worked with Odeleye for more than 10 years, assisted throughout the process. Chris Dziejowski, who cast the concrete pedestal for the bust and Keith Smith, assistant professor of art, were also among the Kennesaw State technicians and art faculty working on the project. Carole Mauge Lewis, professor of graphic design, created the composition for the text on the pedestal’s stainless steel plaque.

“We worked pretty much round the clock for more than 60 days to accomplish what should have taken six months to complete,” Odeleye said.  “When other people were out partying for New Year’s and enjoying themselves over the holidays, we were hard at work in the studio trying to complete this very important project.”

In addition to the contributions of Odeleye and art department faculty, staff and students, Kennesaw State faculty members participated as conference presenters and were on hand for the unveiling. Jesse Benjamin, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies and sociology, chaired a panel on DuBois, scholar and activist Walter Rodney and Atlanta’s Institute of the Black World.  Seneca Vaught, assistant professor of history, was on a panel discussing Pan-African policy studies.

“This is a truly historical conference that presents a great opportunity to elevate the KSU/CAU relationship to a much higher level,” said Benjamin, who also is presenting a weekly lecture series on Walter Rodney at CAU this semester. “Professor Oyodele’s amazing bust of Dr. Dubois on the CAU campus is a lasting reminder of that relationship, which we are sure to build on in the near future.”

With the hard work and all-nighters behind him, Odeleye focused on the honor of working on a bust of such an important historical figure.

“As a major public arts project, we created a sculpture that will be there and be cared for by an institution for a very long time,” he said. “Working on this lasting tribute to Dr. Du Bois gives me a chance to forever be associated with him, to attach myself to his legacy. Projects like this present a chance for me to leave a footprint of my existence on this earth long after I’m gone.”

– Sabbaye McGriff