Merryn Omotayo Alaka is Phoenix based multi-media artist. Her work often combines printmaking techniques with collage, photo-transfers, patterns, textiles and hair materials. Alaka is a Nigerian-American artist born in Indianapolis. Her work often explores themes of family history, cultural identity and contemporary multiculturalism. She has exhibited work nationally and most recently showed work in the 2018 Arizona Biennial. Alaka currently works as a co-curator and assistant gallery manager at a Phoenix based gallery, Modified Arts.
The Yoruba of Nigeria say, ’A river that forgets its source will surely run dry.’ Influenced by material culture and my Yoruba/American heritage, my work draws its inspiration from the relationships shared between my ancestry, objects and cultural materials. Textiles, patterns, hair, and photographs all shape our understanding of our personal history and lend themselves to a shared human experience. As one of the oldest forms of human activity and manufacturing, textiles hold powerful connections to history, politics, creative expression, and family/cultural identity. Patterns, while reminiscent of textiles and architectural designs, remain present modern life, expressing how our heritage persists not only within ourselves, but also in the world around us. Bearing the essence of who we are now, our hair has the ability to shape our identities. It is a measurement of our lives and a carrier of our DNA linking us to our lineages. Acting as a tool of perception while also a representation of experience, photographs can create a bridge between us and the familiar and unfamiliar aspects and daily life. The use of these materials in my work creates a powerful visual narrative of the dualities often faced when confronting a multicultural identity.