“Onajide’s ‘Challenge, Risk, Growth’ uses silence and stasis to explore the idea of the self and its presentation. This multi-layered installation is composed of a wall panel, a chair suspended in mid-air surrounded by razorwire, cowrie shells, x-rays and several juxtaposed combinations of images and text. The space Shabaka constructs is still and without sound.”

“Challenge, Risk, Growth”
chalk, roofing paper, photocopies, wood, razorwire, cowrie shells, picture frame
110 x 96 x 84 in.
© 1992

“The structured juxtapositions of the physical materials suggest an environment that is ordered and stable while the razorwire and dark shadows challenge that notion. The blurred text seduces viewers into the uncertain space where they are then confronted by ambiguous phrases that question individual identity. While the objects in this collage-like installation are physically quiet tangible and dense with visual metaphors, their meaning is purposefully unclear, leaving their interpretation to the viewer’s sensibility.”

“Challenge, Risk, Growth”
11 x 14 in.
© 1992
(watercolor on paper for exhibition catalogue)

“Deliberately unpolished and worn, the physical structure suggest a primitive altar or theatre stage where human presence is hinted at but does not appear. Shabaka creates an environment where each viewer contributes individual experience to establish an idosyncratic bond between past and present, taking its meaning, not from the assembled objects which make it up, but from their relationship and their interplay with space, and time.”

Alison Nordström, PhD, Director and Senior Curator