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Nasher Museum of Art Plans Public Art Commission in Downtown Durham

Odita work

Artist Odili Donald Odita is known for his beautiful, colorful abstract wall paintings

To celebrate its 10-year anniversary, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University has announced plans to commission a mural by abstract painter Odili Donald Odita in downtown Durham and a large-scale wall painting inside the museum.

The artist will give a free talk about his work at the museum on Tuesday, March 17, as the annual Barbra and Andrew Rothschild Lecture.

“We are proud to bring Odili Donald Odita to Duke to kick off the celebration of our first decade and the decades to come,” said Sarah Schroth, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum. “His beautiful, abstract wall paintings demonstrate a rare use of color and pattern executed through a rigorous process. Odita’s colors reflect his vision from his travels around the world. His painting inside the museum will visually connect with a monumental wall painting in downtown Durham, symbolizing our commitment to the community.” The Nasher Museum is working with city officials, the Durham Arts Council/SmART Initiative, the Durham Public Art Committee and others to identify a location for the mural. Both of Odita’s mural projects have launched educational initiatives and public programs that will strengthen the museum’s ties to Duke and the community in new ways. In a partnership with the Durham School of the Arts (DSA), the Nasher Museum will train high school art students to educate the public about Odita and his murals. While Odita and his assistants produce the murals, both at the museum and downtown, DSA students will be at each site to share information with visitors, answer questions and, at scheduled times, lead hands-on art activities.

The Nasher Museum will also collaborate with the East Durham Children’s Initiative and the Durham YMCA to share Odita’s work with K-6 students in the summer camp program. Over the course of six weeks, students will discuss Odita’s murals at the museum and learn about his process and background. Students will then create their own works of art inspired by Odita.

The student work will be framed and displayed in community exhibitions at the American Tobacco Campus and the Holton Resource Center in East Durham.

This fall, Odita will engage with Duke students and faculty during a residency made possible by a Visiting Artist Grant from the Council for the Arts, Office of the Provost, at Duke. The Nasher Museum will present the mural inside the museum a free community day event on Oct. 4.

The Nasher Museum will present the new downtown Durham mural at a block party on Oct. 10 featuring local artists and musicians.

Below: 3rd Degree of Separation, 2014 by Odili Donald Odita

odita art


The Nasher Museum, at 2001 Campus Drive at Anderson Street on the Duke campus, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and members of the Duke Alumni Association with I.D. card, $3 for non-Duke students with identification and free for children 15 and younger. Admission is free to all on Thursday nights. Admission is free to Duke students, faculty and staff with a Duke ID. Admission is also free to Nasher Museum members.