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Ejenobo “Jena” Oke

Delicate doll fragments gain new life in Oke exhibit at Manchester

Oke artAs a child, Ejenobo “Jena” Oke loved to read books by Enid Blyton, an author who spun tales of nurseries full of toys that came alive when the children left the room, toys that clearly felt the physical imprint of their contact with children, both caring and careless.

She was forever trying to rescue toys – fix them, love them, give them a home. These days, Oke still collects doll fragments and gives them new life in ceramic and fiber art works.

The works of Oke, Manchester University associate professor of art and a 1997 Manchester graduate, will be on display from Feb. 21-April 1 in Gallery G of the Jo Young Switzer Center. 

Viewing hours for "(Still) Playing with Dolls …” are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 3 p.m. Sundays when classes are in session. It is free and open to the public, as is a reception with the artist 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25.

“I continue to collect (and to be fascinated) by things used and used up, by objects broken, discarded, and physically affected by their contact with humans,” Oke said. “These things I add to my collections in the studio, never really knowing how these disparate objects will come together to make sense. When they do, I am moved by how these delicate fragments can embody strength, resilience, and tenderness at the same time.”

The North Manchester resident is best known as a fiber artist. Her works range from loom-controlled weavings to batik quilts to sculptures that incorporate ceramics, paper, felt and basketry materials.

A Nigerian-American, she moved with her family to the United States in 1987. Oke received her bachelor’s degree in art from Manchester, and Master of Fine Arts degrees from Norfolk State and Old Dominion universities. She returned to Manchester in 2006 and teaches courses in studio art and art history. Oke also serves as the director of galleries and chair of the Department of Art at MU.

For more information, contact the artist at eroke@manchester.edu or 260-982-5334.

About Manchester

Manchester University, with campuses in North Manchester and Fort Wayne, Ind., offers more than 60 areas of academic study to nearly 1,600 students in undergraduate programs, a Master of Science in Pharmacogenomics, a Master of Athletic Training a four-year professional Doctor of Pharmacy and a four-year dual degree in pharmacy and pharmacogenomics. Learn more about the private, northern Indiana school at www.manchester.edu . 

February 2019