Bright Eke’s medium is water, which links all humans and their environments. Inspired by a skin infection he developed from acid rain caused by oil companies’ pollution in his native Nigeria, Eke first created a large installation comprised of small plastic sachets filled with acidified water suspended like poisoned raindrops frozen midair.
The spatial complexity of Acid Rain, first seen at the 2006 Dakar Biennial, evokes both our global connectedness as humans and the delicate natural networks in which we are all embedded. Bright Eke extends this metaphor in the “waterways” he constructs from thousands of plastic water bottles. Such works as Natural Connection, installed for the 2008 International Festival for the Arts in the Netherlands, and Confluence, created for the 2008 international exhibition CodeShare in Lithuania, form tunnels or labyrinths through which visitors move, like amoebas in our intestines, or fetuses in a birth canal.
Rivers and other bodies of waters can also constitute boundaries, and the politics of water is increasingly divisive as water becomes more precious. Several of Bright Eke’s works take the form of transparent walls of water bottles, evoking both the solidity and permeability of boundaries. Others focus bluntly on the ethics of water quality in different locales; we can tell a lot about people and their environments from the quality of the water they drink.
Bright Eke’s site-specific works integrate the physical and social environment by using materials found locally and working with locals. Often the work has an ecological and exemplary benefit, recycling the plastic bottles that clutter the global environment. Eke explains his work as being as much about the environment as from the environment, as much about the public as from it; as much about culture and society as from it. Like the water cycle itself, his works are potentially recyclable.
In his focus on interconnectedness and working socially rather than heroic individualism, on environmental and global issues rather than individual ones, and on global identity rather than national identity, Bright Eke reflects concerns of a new non-national generation of international artists.
Bright Eke obtained his MFA at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he studied with El Anatsui. He has received numerous international awards and residencies, and has shown widely internationally, mostly in group exhibitions. In the United States he was recently featured in Environment & Object: Recent African Art at the Tang Museum, Skidmore College, and other venues, and in the Global Africa Project at the Museum of Art & Design, New York.
b. 1976 in Mbaise, Imo State, Nigeria
M.F.A University of Nigeria, Nsukka-2007
B.A. University of Nigeria, Nsukka-2002
Liquid State. Axis Gallery, New York. USA
1:54 Art Fair, London, Axis Gallery
Africa-Africans, Museu Afro Brasil, São Paolo, Brazil, May 25th, 2015
1:54 Art Fair, New York, Axis Gallery
Spring UNC Hanes Visiting Artist-in-Residence
Acid Rain /African Spirit. Ursula Blickle Foundation, Kraichtal, Germany
The Water of Life: Artistic Expressions, Fedex Global Center, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
High Trash, Robert Hull Fleming Museum, Burlington, Vermont
Water and Me; Art in Public Space – Trinidad and Tobago
Environ-Scope: Goethe Institute, Lagos, Nigeria
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
Environment and Object, Recent African Art, Middlebury College museum of Art, Vermont
Don’t Panic: Goethe Institute, Durban, South Africa
Environment and Object, Recent African Art, Anderson Gallery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia
Environment and Object, Recent African Art; Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College, New York
Water and Waste; Åland Island Art Museum, Aland Island
Neither Here Nor There; JAMM: Contemporary Art Exhibition, London
What’s the Matter? Onirica 2010, Grand Guard Palace, Verona, Italy
The woods that see and hear, ‘S-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands’
Global Africa Project Exhibition, Museum of Arts and Design, New York
The 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art, “PRAXIS: Art in Times of Uncertainty”; Greece
1st International Festival of Contemporary Art(FIAC of Algiers), National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Algiers.
RETHINK: THE IMPLICIT, Contemporary Art and Climate Change: Den Frie Center for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, Denmark
All Barnsley Diversity Festival, South Yorkshire, UK
Stichting Art in Redlight, Amsterdam
TASTE 2009: Root Division, San Francisco, USA
CODE SHARE, 10 Biennales, 20 Artists, 5 Continents, International Exhibition, Vilnius, Lithuania
Echo Wanted: Galerie Karsten Greve, Paris.
Experimental Frontiers: society through the eyes of South African and Nigerian artists; Cape Town, South Africa
WATER: Delight and Misery; Ifa Gallery, Stuttgart, Ifa Gallery Berlin, Germany
Art, Migration, and Identity: International Exhibition for the International Festival of Art in Arnhem – Netherlands.
Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change – Sharjah Biennial 8, United Arab Emirates.
Trans-Cape Contemporary African Art Exhibition, Cape town, South Africa
M.F.A, Final ( Studio and thesis) Exhibition, WATER: Medium, Process and Idea For Sculpture; Ana Gallery, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) Festival, Santa Domingo, Antilles
DAK’ART, 7th Biennial of Contemporary African Art, IFAN Musuem, Dakar, Senegal
M.F.A. (first) Exhibition, Ana Gallery, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
3rd International Conference – Exhibition on Modern Art in Nigeria, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
5th Biennial Exhibition of Pan African Circle of Artists, National Museum, Enugu
45th Founders Day Anniversary Exhibition, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
B.A. (studio and thesis) Exhibition; Children’s Play Architecture – Sandcastle
2002 – 2003
University of Maiduguri Staff Secondary School, Maiduguri, Nigeria
Dallas International Secondary school Maidugury, Nigeria
University of Nigeria, New Main Gate(Logo)
Member – College Arts Association, USA
International Festival of the Arts in Arnhem, Netherlands-Residency at Thamgidi Studios
Commonwealth Arts and Craft Awards Residency, Trinidad and Tobago
Djerassi Artists Residency Program, California, USA
UNESCO Aschberg Bursaries for Artists’ Residency, Centro Colombo Americano, Colombia
Member of the Jury- Commonwealth Connections International Residency Awards, 2009
2000 – 2001
President- Mbaise Federation of University Students, University of Nigeria
Shortlisted for final selection for Anish Kapoor’s protégé under the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative
Commonwealth Arts and Craft Awards
The LEF Foundation, Lava Thomas and Peter Danzig Fellowship Award, DRAP, USA
ResArtis Award, Dak’Art Prize
UNESCO Aschberg Bursaries for Artists
Best Graduating Student Prize, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka
CONFERENCES / LECTURES / WORKSHOPS
Headline! Environmental News, Artists Presenters, Audience Respondents: College Art Association Conference, Los Angeles, CA
Classes of African Art History: Skidmore College, New York
School of Art and Design, Purchase College, New York
Classes of African Art History: Skidmore College, New York
Nukae, The Art of El Anatsui; Neuberger Museum of Art, New York
Thornton High School, Mount Vernon, New York
Ideas of Water: A workshop for RETHINK; Art and Climate Change, Copenhagen
Water is Power: African Art History; College Art Association, CAA Conference, Los Angeles, USA
Burnett Child Development Center, San Fransisco Unified School District In Conjunction with ArtSeed, San Fransisco, USA
Sacred Heart High School, Palo Alto, USA
Slide talk, Alice Yard-Experimental Space, Trinidad and Tobago
Slide talk, Palo Alto Art Center, California, USA.