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Life of African sculptor Fakeye celebrated

Oct. 12, 2010

Photo of Lamidi Fakeye.KALAMAZOO--Friends and fans of Lamidi O. Fakeye will gather at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College Thursday, Oct. 21, to honor the late Nigerian sculptor.

Fakeye had a close association with WMU that dated back to 1960. Africa's most renowned woodcarver for the past several decades, he was named a "Living Treasure" by UNESCO, and his work, including items he completed for WMU, has been showcased by the Smithsonian Institution.

All of the events planned for the Fakeye celebration are free and open to the public. A main feature of the celebration will be the showing of a new documentary video called "Lamidi Olonade Fakeye: The Life of a Master Carver."

The 42-minute movie was produced and written by Dr. Elizabeth Morton, assistant professor of art history at Wabash College, and directed by Joe Reese, an undergraduate Wabash student.

Fakeye Celebration events Oct. 21

Reception, 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Richmond Center for Visual Arts, WMU. Attendees will be able to meet filmmakers Morton and Reese.

Eulogy and memorials, 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Richmond Center for Visual Arts, WMU. Those wishing to participate are invited to share their personal stories about Fakeye as well as display and talk about pieces of his art that they own.

Movie and lecture, 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. Room 3508 Knauss Hall. After showing her "Lamidi Olonade Fakeye" documentary, Morton will discuss how she and Reese collaborated with the artist on the project, selected people to interview and include, and view the impact their video may have.

Movie premier, 7 p.m., Dalton Theatre, Light Fine Arts Building, Corner of Thompson and Academy Streets, Kalamazoo College. This will be the formal premier of "Lamidi Olonade Fakeye."

Photography exhibit and reception, 7 p.m., Light Fine Arts Gallery, Light Fine Arts Building, Kalamazoo College.

Fakeye, who died Dec. 25, 2009, had his first major American Retrospective Exhibition at WMU's Space Gallery in 1987. The show drew heavily on pieces from the 1960s that were purchased by WMU and several of its faculty members who had become familiar with the artist when they were in Nigeria working on a U.S. Agency for International Development project.

Fakeye has had more than a dozen shows of his work at WMU, which he called, "my American university." Most recently, he had been on campus in October 2009 for an exhibition in the Richmond Center. That is the time period of Morton's documentary, which focuses on Fakeye's final tour to the United States and features his last interviews.

During the Oct. 21 celebration, Dr. Bruce M. Haight, WMU professor of history, will give the eulogy, a copy of which is posted at www.wmich.edu/history/news/spring10/fakeye.html. Haight hosted Fakeye during many of his visits to Kalamazoo and worked closely with the artist from 1983 to 1999 as his coordinator and collaborator.

Haight, Fakeye and David H. Curl, WMU professor emeritus of education and professional development, co-authored Fakeye's 1996 autobiography. Titled "Lamidi Olonade Fakeye: A Retrospective Exhibition and Autobiography," it is the definitive study of Fakeye's life and career.

Curl, now an adjunct professor of art at Kalamazoo College and instructor at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, is providing photos from his extensive collection to create the photographic exhibit being staged at Kalamazoo College.

Additional photos are being contributed by Olasope Oyelaran, a retired WMU administrator who was a former colleague of Fakeye's at what is now Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria.

For more information about the Lamidi Fakeye celebration, contact WMU's Bruce Haight at bruce.haight@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5361. Photos and details about Fakeye's art are available online.

For more information about the "Lamidi Olonade Fakeye" movie contact Wabash's Elizabeth Morton at mortone@wabash.edu or (765) 361-6351. The video will be available for purchase through amazon.com in April 2011.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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