From the book "Black Art, Ancestral Legacy", 1989, Curator and contributor Alvia Wardlaw
Published on the occasion of the exhibition Black Art - Ancestral Legacy organized by the Dallas Museum of Art

"Emerging Spirit"   pg 209
mixed media and collage on
paper, 1970-71. 24 x 18 inches. 

In Emerging Spirit, Olugebefola juxtaposes the brilliant colorations of blue, red, black, and white, the basic Yoruba ceremonial colors, to create an evocative work depicting spiritual birth. The artist's experience in Weusi Ya Sanna provides him with a sound frame of reference for this work and the ritual symbolism of these colors adds another level of meaning to the image. The colors, flame like in their formation, acquire a deeper resonance in their close proximity. A kind of visual vibrancy is set up which emanates from the spiritual form upwards, beyond the edges of the paper.

 "The Prophesy"  pg 211
acrylic and mixed media on panel, 1969. 
28 x 28 inches.

The Prophesy was used by Olugebefola in a ritual play performed by the New Lafayette Theater in New York City. The artist uses mixed media and a dark palette to create an air of mystery about the mask-like form depicted in the painting. There is no clear indication of what the prophesy refers to, but the adornment of the facial features with cowries speaks strongly to the ritualistic, content of the work. The original  Lafayette Theater was a part of the cultural activity of the Harlem Renaissance, during which time artists performed dramas by black playwrights...During the Civil Rights Movement the New Lafayette Theater was organized and works by a number of important African-American writers were presented. Olugebefola served as artistic director for the group and The Prophesy was used in a scene for a play dealing with African spiritual heritage.


"Shango"  pg 211
acrylic and mixed media on panel, 1969.
33 x 24 inches

Through his involvement in the artist group, Weusi Ya Sanaa, which promoted the study of African culture, Olugebefola has examined the diversity of deities that exist within the Yoruba pantheon of gods. Shango, the Yoruba god of thunder, is here presented in mighty glory, with an emphatic palette of primary red and blue, while black and white serve in strong visual opposition. These are all fundamental hues in the Yoruba ritual use of color in sculpture. Olugebefola further adds to the ritual use of materials by underscoring the outline of the Shango form with a line of cowrie shells. Known for their monetary worth throughout Africa, and having a ritual association with childbirth traceable to ancient Nubia, these shells frequently adorn divination instruments used by Yoruba priests and often were used in the divination activities themselves. The internalization of the flamelike forms lends the work an internal dynamism which is appropriate for a figure of the powerful god Shango.