Ebitenyefa Baralaye is a ceramicist, sculptor, and designer. His work explores cultural, spiritual, and material translations of form/objects, text, and symbols interpreted through a diaspora lens and abstracted around the aesthetics of craft and design. Baralaye received a BFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in Ceramics from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Baralaye was an Emerging Artists Program recipient at the Museum of the African Diaspora in 2017 and an AICAD Teaching Fellow at the San Francisco Art Institute from 2016 to 2018. He is currently an Assistant Professor and Section Head of Ceramics at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.
My life and generation dwell in the negotiation of fragmented and transitional presence. We have become increasingly used to juggling in a moment multiple understandings of where we come from, where we are, and the futures we are intended for. I use art as a way to deconstruct and expand that moment. I produce compositions in the form of objects and installations that are markers of identity, place, and state, and the fluid dynamics around them. I layer spirituality, culture, context, utility, and desire into works that navigate and rest in between definitions and operate as recorders of life experience. Sourcing my narrative of migration from Nigeria, through the Caribbean, and to the United States, I use form as a language to mediate engagement and displacement toward society, ideas of dwelling/home, and faith.
I am interested in the psychological agency of objects that project understandings of identity and desire: shrines, statues, monuments, urns, etc. I am also drawn to the poetics of domesticity and utility, positioning design and function as ways of feeling within ways of ordering. I at times work in multiples, shifting between conditions of collective and individual representation. I lean heavily towards the use and raw representation of natural materials: clay, fiber, wood, and metal. My production processes rely on degrees of preliminary planning through sketches, blueprints, and digital models, while being intuitively driven and motivated by continual questioning and discovery.