Featured Artist : Odhiambo Siangla

Artist History

Mr. Siangla was born in Kenya. He taught Physical Science at Mombasa High School in Kenya before enrolling for an art program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. During his first year at the Academy, he won the Samuel David Memorial Prize for Cast Drawing. On a Cresson Fellowship, in 1990, he traveled to Europe to investigate the relationship between the spiritual art of Europe and Africa. He found out that “spiritual” art is based on cosmological models. Traditionally, European artists have worked within a Christian cosmological picture. African artists, on the other hand, have a world view that is much more in consonance with scientific theories.


Siangla spent two months visiting museums, churches, libraries and cemeteries throughout England, France and Austria. He was able to see African art in the British Museum because much of it had been taken from its home country to England during the colonial period in the early 19th century. He then spent the last month of his trip in Africa. He concluded that changes taking place in Europe have influenced artist to think in more global terms, to break out of their traditional modes of thought and practice. “Each time we approach the end of a decade or century, we question our axioms,” he noted.


Through the years Mr. Siangla  has received many awards which include: Gundaker Foundation International Grant, Mindel Caplan Kienbard Award, Franklin C. Watkins Memorial Grant and the Charles Toppan Prize. He’s taught the Arts of Africa course at the University of the Arts and delivered numerous public lectures on African issues. Odhiambo Siangla’s art has been on view at the museum of the Pennsylvania Academy, Sade Webster Gallery, Philadelphia; Albuquerque Conference Center, New Mexico and National Hispanic Council, Washington, DC. His paintings are in several private collections in the United States and abroad.


Artist’s Statement

There exists a critical point in the meaning of art. The social context, its deepest sense, is a kind of deterministic randomness. It becomes an evolution of value that is interwoven with turbulence, universality and unpredictability. Art, a continually evolving phenomenon, depends on ecological, cosmological and social systems in which the artist lives. To understand art, we need a conceptual framework which is capable of change and continually adaptive to emerging situations.
The romantic concept of nature is capable of great development in intellectual range and emotional power. In “sources of the globe” (the birth and evolution of humanity and its creative expression), I propose that modernity is transcended, “vision is now multiply realized” and finally leads to what has become in art an organic interaction of subjugated knowledge.