The Austin Chronicle


Reviewed by Caitlin Greenwood, May 9, 2014, Arts

Wura-Natasha Ogunji: 'Your heart is clean'

MASS Gallery, 507 Calles #108
Through May 31

Wura-Natasha Ogunji's "Your heart is clean" immerses itself into the heart of Lagos, Nigeria. In addition to calling Austin home, Ogunji lives in Lagos and has documented the landscape and cultural flow of the city. She studied the implications of women in public spaces with her video piece, Mo gbo mo branch/I heard and I branched myself into the party, and "Your heart is clean" feels like a natural extension of that project.

Ink, graphite, and intricate stitch work decorate Ogunji's new works on paper. The larger pieces, hung from MASS Gallery's ceiling, bear a video projection of the artist zooming through the city by car. Buildings, waterscapes, and the persistent hum of Lagos are caught for a fleeting moment on camera while the stories that Ogunji captured on paper remain static. The artist weaves text into these larger pieces – something of a cross-stitch hybrid – that reveals the intimate details of her subjects. They speak to the narrative that takes place between family members and also individual pursuits, including the brief details of a relationship turned sour.

The stars of "Your heart is clean" are Ogunji's sewn portraits. Embellished with extremely skilled detail, they present the faces behind her stories. The figures stand out amidst the city scenes and the pieces bearing their faces are suspended in the gallery, which allows the paper to sway as the audience leans in to examine Ogunji's details up close. This soft movement, coupled with the strength and intricacies of the artist's work, creates a compelling environment that brings the ethos of Lagos to the heart of Austin, Texas.

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