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Sculptor Ebitenyefa Baralaye’s Ceramic Vessels Pay Homage to His Ancestry

Following the racial reckoning of 2020 and the death of his father that same year, the Nigerian-born, Detroit-based sculptor has embraced figuration while contemplating his own identity. “Portraiture can serve as a record for people’s families, dynasties, and cultures,” reflects artist Ebitenyefa Baralaye. Finished in a black satin glaze, his Akanza series mixes his and his father’s abstracted facial features. Meanwhile, his All My Relation series (named after an inscription by Dave the Potter) pays homage to his Nigerian ancestors through an imagined archive of eyes, ears, and noses. Works from both projects go on display February 15 at Friedman Benda’s Los Angeles gallery, alongside large ceramic finials and columns inspired by the work of Yoruba artisan Olowe of Ise and Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.