“THE GIFT” by Al LaVergne

In the summer of 2009 I was invited to travel to Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife, Nigeria by the late great Yoruba Wood Carver, Lamidi Fakeye and build a steel sculpture. I applied for a Fulbright Grant and was awarded a 10 months grant with the option to stay a full year.
I arrived in Nigeria on January 1 with only a suitcase and a dream to fulfill a vision. The university had no resources and only provided me with free housing during the entire visit. I use my grant money to fund the whole operation. There was an appropriate studio space for my unique steel process. I was assigned a workspace in a hallway shared by the whole university community. The situation enabled me to engaged in rich dialog which deepen my appreciation of the culture and its’ people. The theme and inspiration for the sculpture project came as a result of these inactions. Nigerians are passionate, concerning the love for their family and an image of a mother and child seemed an appropriate subject matter.
Each day presented new challenges as I developed the 14’ steel fabricated sculpture. However I pushed forward and succeeded in accomplishing my mission.

The sculpture commemorates Parenting on a universal scale

The most precious gift from God is a child, and the mother realizes the important responsibilities of that privilege.

A university primary role is to provide an environment where its’ students can be inspired to grow and realize their full potential.

On a personal level, it is a fact that most African Slave to were brought to North America came from Nigeria. I see myself as a descendant of that cargo who has returned home to bring a gift back to Mother Nigeria.