Abstract Of Presentation
A Culture Awakening Through Technology – My Fulbright Experience in Ile-Ife Nigeria by Pof. Albert Lavergne
In 2012, I arrived at ObafemiAwolowo University on a Fulbright Lecture/research Grant with a mission of building a steel fabricated sculpture and present it to the university as a gift from Western Michigan University in commemorating their 50th Anniversary. It was my first visit to the African Continent with only my enthusiasm to guide me.
Over my 39 years as a teacher/researcher, I developed a unique process of fabricating directly, with metal without the need of a foundry. I grew up watching my mother fabricate colorful quilts with reconstituted fabrics pieces without the need of a model. I was intrigued at the process of how individual sections of clothes, evolved into a large mosaic colorful design. She maintained the capacity to improvise circumstances as her imagination dictated. The quilt’s design was developed in the moment.
My first exposer to metal work came when I accompanied my father to the local blacksmith to have farming tools and equipment sharpened. At the time, I remember being mesmerized by the process that the heat of the fire could transform the metal. As a sharecropper, my father instilled in us at an early age how essential skills in eye and hand coordination were to the survival of our farm.
As I traveled towards discovering my personal conceptual identity and my sculptures grew larger, building for strength and balance became a primary issue. The law of gravity would always challenge my designs, to transform industrial steel into rhythmic organic looking forms. The process required dynamic engineering of joints. I needed the spontaneity of my mother’s quilts and the practicality of my fathers’ tool making skills.
My lecture will cover my preparations and my adventures in Ile-Ife building a14 feet steel fabricated sculpture.