Benin things of the river: The art of Margaret Omoragbon and Rose Igbinoba
The history of Benin and its arts organizations, the predominantly patriarchal guilds of bronze and wood workers, has resulted in other art forms, especially those involving women, being marginalized in mainstream research. Female artists have also been ignored in Benin’s art history, a problem of gender bias worthy of further examination. This essay focuses on the role of women in Benin art by looking at chalk, mud and alternative materials as medium, and the work of such artists as Margaret Omoragbon and Rose Igbinoba who produce “river items” (evwin eze) that they sell in the kevwin kevwin market in Benin city. Among these items are abstract images of the male and female body, reminiscent of the woman of Willendorf which, though religious and ‘medical’ in focus, have their own aesthetic appeal.
Keywords: Art, women, Benin, river items