This project, The Heads of Asuoha, is part of an ongoing exploration of the ways in which I negotiate my identification with two different cultures. Born in Nigeria but assimilated into African American culture, my family and I are like many other immigrants in America who find themselves embodying two cultural identities—the culture from “back home” and the present American culture.
The Heads of Asuoha, takes its name from the famous Heads of Ife, which are a series of eighteen bronze sculptures depicting the heads of Nigerian kings from the thirteenth century. For this project, I have adopted the Heads of Ife as the base representation of my family’s connection to Nigerian culture. Then, to each Head of Ife I assigned the facial features of a particular member of my family, as a way of representing that person and showcasing the unique ways in which they reconcile their Nigerian identity with their American Identity.
Through styles of dress, speech, and mannerisms, each person in my family reveals in their own way their level of Americanness. Hence, every accessory and print are designed and organized to show the connection each family member has to either cultural identity.
The result is a series of striking visual collages blending candid photos of my family with the carved, majestic faces of 13th century kings and queens of Nigeria. In the end, each portrait reveals the personality of each person portrayed and informs my understanding of how they all embody this cultural duality.