Artist talk: Yinka Shonibare MBE

03/10/2018 - 3:00pm - 7:00pm

March 10 (Saturday)
Artist talk: Yinka Shonibare
3 p.m.

The Allentown Art Museum is one of two destinations in the United States where internationally acclaimed artist Yinka Shonibare MBE will speak in March. Shonibare will be here in Allentown to discuss his work upon the unveiling of his new sculpture Girl Balancing Knowledge III that was commissioned by the Museum.

The sculpture will be on temporary view in Trexler Gallery on Saturday, March 10, and Sunday, March 11. The Museum will stay open until 7 p.m. on Saturday following Shonibare’s presentation, which begins at 3 p.m. Admission to Shonibare’s presentation is free with Museum admission, but seating is limited and available on a first-come basis only. To reserve your seat, click here now. For those unable to attend the talk on Saturday, the presentation will be recorded and played on Sunday in the Museum's auditorium.

Yinka Shonibare in his studio


This weekend represents a special opportunity to see the new commission ahead of the planned reinstallation of the Museum’s permanent collection, which is expected to be completed in 2019. Purchase of the unique sculpture was made possible by the Priscilla Payne Hurd Endowment Fund.

Yinka Shonibare MBE (British, born 1962), Girl Balancing Knowledge III, 2017, fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton textile,
books, globe, leather, steel baseplate. Allentown Art Museum, purchase: Priscilla Payne Hurd Endowment Fund, 2018

About the Sculpture
In a series of sculptures entitled Balancing Knowledge, Yinka Shonibare addresses questions of identity in a complex, globalized society. This seminal acquisition is key for the Museum’s goal to engage the public with art that highlights varied cultural narratives and sparks discussion about contemporary issues like race and identity, issues that are compelling and thought-provoking.

Shonibare’s sculptures feature life-size child mannequins carrying teetering piles of books. Their dynamic poses suggest the challenges of obtaining an education, but also evoke energetic play and childish joy in learning and discovery. Each fiberglass mannequin has a globe for a head, a choice that Shonibare commonly makes in his work that lends itself to varying interpretations: a reference to globalization, a thirst for all-encompassing knowledge, or a way to avoid any racial markers of identity. He deliberately gives the mannequins in all of his works light brown skin in order to create racial ambiguity.