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Tuesday, January 26, 2021


by Mary Clurman

EL ANATSUI is a Ghanaian sculptor who has spent much of his achievement packed career living and working in Nigeria. El Anatsui currently runs a very robust studio in Nsukka, Enugu, Nigeria, where some of the most beautiful and touching works of art in the world today are created. He is one of the most highly acclaimed artists in African History and foremost contemporary artists in the world. El Anatsui uses resources typically discarded such as liquor bottle caps and cassava graters to create sculpture that defies categorisation. His use of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation, and an intrinsic desire to connect to his continent while transcending the limitations of place. His work can interrogate the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice. Above: El Anatsui’s “New World Map,” aluminum bottle caps and copper wire, 2009–2010.

El Anatsui’s elegant creations— 
assembled bottle caps
glorious detritus from
a million billion bottles
reimagined as a map
in fabric 
but shiny 
weight enough 
to smother Mother Earth.

Let us all now drink to El
his wit and grace and hype.
He’s seen a value we have not
Until we learn to do without
he weaves with what we’ve got.

After two years in Art History at Bryn Mawr College, Mary Clurman transferred to Cooper Union Art School. Now a retired Montessori teacher, she lives in Princeton, NJ, summers in Barnard, VT. A jack-of-all media—woodworking, cooking, gardening, local issues—she is finally focused on poetry.