Jeremiah Onifadé debuts "Blue Dot" on June 19. (Courtesy of Jeremiah Onifade)
Jeremiah Onifadé new show sheds light on gentrification.
"Blue Dot" by Jeremiah Onifadé will be open for four days straight in the Bonton neighborhood.
The show will take place at 2727 Rochester Street.
After decades working as an unknown artist, Jeremiah Onifadé finally made his debut in Dallas with “A Prelude to the Beautiful Unknown.” Inspired by his childhood in Kaduna (the artist had fled from Nigeria amidst religious violence and unrest), the first show — a showcase for the Onifadé’s distinctive, hopeful style — earned him a grant from the Dallas Office of Arts and Culture.
Like so many 2020 events, however, Onifadé’s follow up show was upended by the coronavirus pandemic. But with the surge of public support for the Black Lives Matter movement, he saw an opportunity to do something different and unexpected in South Dallas.
From June 19 through June 23 (for exactly 96 hours), Onifadé second show, “Blue Dot,” will be on display within a South Dallas home in the historically African American neighborhood of Bonton, a location Onifadé was adamant about. “I know a lot of people who are not comfortable with that part of town,” he tells PaperCity. “It’s not typical for most people who go to galleries and art shows.” And that’s the point. Onifadé wants audiences to see his show as a type of excursion, and a way to shift attention.
“I want to talk about gentrification, and how one community is not greater than another in our community or our country,” he says. “When we gentrify something, we create a black hole. Instead of pushing people out, why not revitalize that community?”
Onifadé moved to America at 22 years old to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design, and soon saw an unsettling systemic similarity between the U.S. and Nigeria. “Although different, the human tract is correlating,” he says. “The U.S. caters to certain societies. It made me sad to see because I saw the same thing in Nigeria. Nothing destroys unity and peace more.”
“Blue Dot” comes from Onifadé’s idea that we all have a responsibility to our earth and that we are all a part of the same community. When people come to the show next week, Onifadé says he wants audiences to think “What do you see?” and “What can we do about it?” “We have to examine and expose this to people,” he says.
After weeks of peaceful protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Onifadé hopes that his show can add to the call for change. “It’s a thick iceberg,” he says. “Unless you’ve experienced it, you’re not going to understand. I want people to come and take away something, not to feel guilty about it,” Onifadé says. “We think Earth is really big, but it’s actually tiny. If we don’t fix a part, it affects the whole.”
In addition to Onifadé’s pieces, young local artists Charles Gray and Jess Tedder will be showing their works in the guest room of the Bonton home. An opening reception will be hosted from 6 pm to 9 pm this Friday, June 19. Given the times, social distancing will be promoted and masks and gloves will be required (and provided). If guests are unable to attend the show in person, a link to experience a virtual version of the show will be made available on June 22.