Peju Layiwola in front of the installation, Face Off, Ine’N’ igun’s palace, Igun Street, Benin City, 2014.
Peju Layiwola is an artist, professor of art history and head of the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos. She is a member of the board of the Lagos Studies Association. She is currently the President elect and Vice President of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association, USA.
She works in a variety of media and focuses on personal and communal histories which centralise Benin as both an ancient kingdom and a contemporary city. Layiwola's dual heritage of Yoruba and Benin informs her art in diverse ways. Her artistic production has in the past three decades, addressed diverse strains of postcolonial condition exploring media and genre ranging from metalwork and pottery to textile and sculpture. Essentially, in her teaching, writing and art, there is a continuous engagement with the twentieth-century themes of artefact pillage, repatriation and restitution; history, memory and cultural imaginary; gender and cultural heterodoxy; the continually mutable processes of production, et cetera. Her new body of works moves from the emotive space of art pillage in Africa captured in her previous solo exhibitions: Benin 1897.com: Art and the Restitution Question, Lagos, Ibadan (2010): Return, Raw Spot Gallery, South Africa (2018) into a more flowery engagement with cloth and its multiple significations.
Through the non profit organization, Women and Youth and Art Foundation (Wy Art), she founded in 1994, she has recorded ground breaking practical interventions and initiated new pedagogical methods that extend beyond the academy into local communities. She has been involved in teaching art to thousands of individuals across Nigeria and Africa organising hands-on workshops and through the production of the first instructional videos on various arts and crafts in Nigeria. Layiwola began her teaching career at the University of Benin in 1991. Since 2002, she has been in the service of the University of Lagos. She runs an active studio in Lagos. She is a recipient of several international grants and has published a large number of academic essays.