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This is the flame that births the conflagration. From these whispers are born the dialogues which will inevitably cause us to locate artistic discourse and practice within the realm of the spiritual...

IMO NSE IMEH is a doctoral candidate at Yale University where he is studying the History of African Art. His parents hail from Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Imo is also a proud brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. During his undergraduate education at Columbia University, Imo was sponsored by the NIKE Corporation through the Jackie Robinson Scholarship Foundation as well as the One Hundred Black Men Foundation Scholarship. At Columbia, Imo excelled in the Art History department and was honored with the inaugural Senior Thesis Prize. He graduated with departmental honors in Art History and was named a Columbia University Kluge Scholar.

S oon afterward, Imo was selected as a curatorial intern at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the department of Modern Art. There, he worked closely with curators to organize the exhibition, African-American Artists, 1929-1945. Since then, Imo has continued to investigate important art historical questions, especially those concerning the African Diaspora.


At Yale University, Imo is currently researching the art of southeast Nigeria, specifically in the area of women’s initiation ceremonies in Ibibioland. His forthcoming dissertation "Daughters of Seclusion: Aesthetic Revelations in Mbopo Ceremony" investigates the traditional Ibibio institution of women's aesthetics and scholarship known as mbopo. While working on his doctorate Imo continues to paint and draw. Most recently, his inaugural solo exhibition Anatomy of Beauty: Time. Transformation. Trauma. was hosted by Westfield State College in Massachusetts. He has also participated in a number of group exhibitions including Surrealist Fusion at White Space Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut and Blacker Than Thou at the Taller Boricua Gallery in New York City. Imo’s work has also been featured in shows at the Rush Arts Gallery, Amy Ruth’s Gallery, Simmons Gallery, the West Side Arts Coalition Gallery, the Post Scrypt Gallery at Columbia University and the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale University. Recently Imo contributed to an exhibition hosted by Yale University that was constructed in conjunction with a conference on Panafricanism. Additionally, his painting Continuity was displayed at the 2006 Jackie Robinson Foundation Annual Awards Ceremony, hosted by Bill Cosby and attended by numerous dignitaries including the foundation’s founder, the honorable Rachel Robinson, whose art collection includes one of Imo’s beautiful drawings.

In the Blacker Than Thou exhibition Imo unveiled what he calls his "greatest acrylic undertaking:" an eight-foot tall, massive, visual and textual rhapsody entitled Guardian: Self-Portrait with Dividing Sentinels. Although Imo considers this image a "self-portrait," he also suggests that Guardian be considered by a number of varying artistic and philosophical angles. Guardian is the result of Imo's artistic prowess working in concert with his desire to engage his Nigerian cultural ties and traditions.

Imo is keenly aware of his future role as both art historian and artist. He is currently developing his scholastic and artistic projects simultaneously, “allowing each to converse with the other,” he says. He is fascinated by the human form—especially the contrasting duality of the body’s inherent fragility and strength. This has caused him to rethink the body with respect to the African Diaspora. His rendered bodies, which he often depicts as dividing into twos and threes, being torn apart, or fusing together with other bodies and forms, are a means for him to discuss the complexities of race, gender, and identity construction among people of African descent.



Exhibition of Continuity at

Jackie Robinson Foundation Robie Awards

March 2006

Imo's painting Continuity was featured at an auction hosted by the Jackie Robinson Scholarship Foundation. This wonderful foundation has been responsible for sponsoring a vast amount of students through college as a result of their undying effort and desire to educate and mentor students of color. Many of these students would otherwise have no avenues to academic and economic success. The event took place at the Waldorf Astoria, during the Jackie Robinson Foundation's annual awards banquet, which was hosted by Bill Cosby.

Continuity; Oil on Canvas; 24 x 96 Inches

Continuity is an eight-foot long representation of a black man of Herculean proportion in mid-flight. When examined from right to left it becomes a symbolic narration and exemplification of one’s experiential journey out of darkness (or death, chaos, confusion) and into a marvelous light (or life, harmony, triumph). The spiritual edge of Continuity comes in part from the traumatic events of September 11, 2001. The painting was born approximately one month after the bombing of the World Trade Center as a reminder to viewers that our commitment to continue with life after disaster is indeed a duty. Moreover our desire to continue the procession of life after tragedy is God-inspired. We become the massive figure in Continuity, taking on his powerful physical attributes, his persistent character, and his beautiful and peaceful gaze, as we too engage the future prospects of peace and harmony in the face of challenges and hardship.


Imo Nse Imeh & Spike Lee in front of Continuity


JUNE 2002