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New exhibit comes to Frederik Meijer Gardens

The exhibit highlights work by Yinka Shonibare, including embroidery, paintings, photographs, collages and more.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Frederik Meijer Gardens has unveiled a new exhibit you won’t want to miss.

The exhibit highlights work by world-renowned artist Yinka Shonibare, including sculptures, paintings, photographs and more. Called “Planets In My Head,” the display features some of Shonibare’s work from the past three decades.

For assistant curator Jochen Wierich, this exhibit is special. He says it’s one of the first sculpture exhibits the museum has hosted in a long time, as the sculpture galleries have been under renovation.

“Our sculpture galleries were closed for a year. And then if you add another three months, during 2020, during the pandemic, that's a long time without sculpture exhibitions,” Wierich said. “And so I think we have a really wonderful exhibition to open up the new galleries.”

Wierich said the last display of Shonibare’s work was likely shown in the U.S. 10 years ago. Some of the work shown in the exhibit comes from private collections, while others have only been shown in the United States once before.

As a British Nigerian artist, Shonibare’s work often combines Dutch wax-fabric patterns, which are popular in Africa, with Victorian clothing designs.

“He embraced that design, and then, you know, started to create sculptures and other works,” Wierich said. “And it's really become sort of his trademark, and he has, you know, really carved the career for himself as one of the premier British Nigerian artists in the world.”

Wierich said Shonibare's art touches on issues of postcolonialism and hybridity, as well as environmentalism and climate change.

The exhibit will be open until Oct. 23. Wierich is encouraging anyone interested in attending to check it out.

“If you're, maybe you know, you feel like you've missed out on sculpture exhibitions, this is it. Come see this one,” Wierich said. “If you're maybe reluctant to see an art exhibition called, you know, contemporary art exhibition…This is so wonderful. It's so colorful, playful, really inviting, and so don't miss it.”

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