A prolific artist, wayfinder and storyteller, DeVane has spent decades learning and making art about the most profound phenomena of our human condition: spirituality, mythology, and transformative experience, including experiences of hardship. Over the last five decades, as she traveled in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, she became inspired by the stories and characters she encountered. Her artwork brings the unexpected to light, while finding new nuances in the old and familiar, and surprising intersections among those cultures.
A highlight of the exhibition is a large-scale carved sculpture, "Nkisi Woman-Universal Nkisi" (2021-22), which will be activated over the course of the exhibition by visitors who are invited to add beads to its surface. The nkisi is a Kongo cultural figure invested with sacred energy, and this sculpture will catalyze communion and community-building. The work reflects DeVane's fascination with how materials convey meaning and reemerge as myths and memories.
The exhibition also celebrates Oletha DeVane's collaborative activities. Her long-standing collaboration with poet and media personality Tadia Rice, Beyond Bars: Prison Women Speak, will be updated for the exhibition in the form of new video works.
"Oletha DeVane: Spectrum of Light and Spirit" is organized by curator Lowery Stokes Sims and is supported by the Maryland State Arts Council and Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences.
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