As an African woman, mother, and artist, being able to share my culture with others is a lifelong passion of mine. For years I have dreamed of bringing the ancient Kingdom of Benin to life at Burning Man. In 2023, that dream will finally become a reality. Our art installation, The Star Kingdom of Oba, will transport visitors back in time to experience the grandeur and beauty of this historic West African civilization.
For me, this project is deeply personal. The Benin Kingdom represents a pivotal time in my cultural heritage, a period of innovation, wealth, and artistic mastery. To showcase the Kingdom at an event like Burning Man is an opportunity to celebrate that history on a global stage and to inspire wonder in a whole new generation. My hope is that visitors will come away with a deeper appreciation for African artistry and spirituality. By fusing the modern and the ancient, the familiar and the foreign, I believe we can create an unforgettable experience that honors the past while also looking toward the future. This is a chance to build new connections and continue a legacy of greatness. I have never been more excited or more ready to share this vision with the world. The Star Kingdom of Oba is a dream come true.
Representing My African Heritage at Burning Man
As an African woman and artist, bringing an installation representing the Kingdom of Benin to Burning Man means the world to me.
For years I have dreamed of honoring my heritage at the event, and now the time has finally come. In 2023, our project ‘The Star Kingdom of Oba’ will bring the glory of pre-colonial West Africa to Black Rock City.
As a child, my mother told me stories of the Edo people and our ancestral kings, the Obas of Benin. Their bronze castings and ivory carvings were unparalleled in their mastery and beauty. The kingdom was a center of trade, culture, and power in West Africa for centuries.
Though the kingdom fell to British forces in 1897, its legacy lives on. I hope to keep that legacy alive by sharing the wonders of Benin with 80,000 Burners. Recreating the intricate details of ceremonial dress, brass castings, and architecture in a massive art installation has been a labor of love.
Bringing this vision to fruition at the event that has inspired me as an artist is a dream I have held dear for years. To represent my heritage and share the magnificence of pre-colonial Africa with a wider audience is an opportunity I do not take lightly. I hope that through understanding the grandeur of past kingdoms like Benin, we can build a more just and equitable future.
My team is so grateful to have retrieved a Burning Man art honorarium and continue to seek donations from individuals and companies to bring the Star Kingdom of Oba to the playa. I am blessed to work with an amazing lead artist, Dipo Doherty and an amazing creative director Tayler Ava Friar on this project ‘The Star Kingdom of Oba’ is my gift to the playa—and to my ancestors. I cannot wait to welcome you home.
Sharing a Proud Legacy With My Daughter
As an African woman and artist, bringing the Kingdom of Benin to Black Rock City means the world to me. This installation will allow me to share an important part of my heritage with my daughter in a deeply meaningful way.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to tell me stories of the Benin Kingdom and show me pictures of the beautiful bronze castings and terra cotta sculptures created by my ancestors. I was always in awe of the mastery and detail. Now, I have the chance to bring this history to life for my own daughter.
- She will get to see the traditional dress of Benin royalty and understand its significance.
- She will learn about key deities and spiritual figures in Benin culture.
- Most importantly, she will gain a sense of pride in where she comes from and the accomplishments of her forebears.
As creator, being able to recreate elements of the Benin Kingdom is a dream come true. I get to honor my creative lineage while also educating others about an important West African civilization. The arts have always been a way for me to connect with my roots, and this installation deepens that connection in a very public way.
When I think about people from all over the world experiencing a taste of Benin grandeur in the middle of the desert, I get goosebumps. This project allows me to continue a legacy of greatness and share it with my daughter and a wider audience. I hope that it inspires other artists and individuals to explore their own cultural heritage in creative ways. Our stories deserve to be told, and Burning Man is the perfect place for that.
Honoring My Ancestors Through Art
Honoring My Ancestors Through Art
As creator bringing the Kingdom of Benin to Black Rock City is my way of honoring my ancestors and keeping their legacy alive. My art has always been inspired by my Nigerian heritage, and this project allows me to share the beauty and wonder of the Benin Kingdom with a wider audience.
- The Benin Kingdom was a pre-colonial kingdom in what is now southern Nigeria. It was a center of art, culture, and trade for centuries. The bronze castings and ivory carvings created by Benin artisans were some of the finest in the world.
- My installation will feature recreations of the famous bronze plaques and busts, as well as a massive replica of the walls surrounding the Benin palace. I want to transport people back in time and give them a glimpse into the grandeur and sophistication of this ancient African kingdom.
As a mother, I feel it’s important to educate my children about where they come from and to take pride in their cultural heritage. This project is a way for me to teach them about an influential time in our history and share the beauty of Benin art with them. My hope is that in seeing the installation, they will feel a deeper connection to their roots.
For years I have dreamed of honoring the West Africa tat Burning Man. To bring this vision to life at Burning Man is a dream come true. My art is a tribute to the skill, creativity, and enduring spirit of my ancestors. Though the Benin Kingdom is long gone, its legacy lives on and continues to inspire. I hope that in experiencing the wonder of this ancient culture, people will gain a newfound appreciation for African history and understand its vital place in the shared story of humanity.
Supporting Visionary Art at Burning Man
Bringing the Kingdom of Benin to Black Rock City is a dream come true for me. As an African woman and artist, I want to share the beauty of my cultural heritage with others.
Honoring My Ancestry
The Benin Kingdom was an important pre-colonial state in West Africa, in what is now southern Nigeria. Its art, especially the famous bronze castings, demonstrate a mastery of metalworking and an elegance of form. I grew up surrounded by the visual legacy of the Edo people, and their art has always been a source of pride for me. To recreate elements of the Benin Kingdom at Burning Man is a way for me to honor my ancestors and share their visionary spirit with a wider audience.
As a mother, one of my deepest wishes is for my children to feel connected to their cultural roots. By bringing them to help build and share this installation, I hope to give them a tangible link to understand where they come from. For others attending Burning Man, I believe encountering the Kingdom of Benin will spark curiosity about an ancient African civilization and foster a sense of shared humanity across cultural divides.
Supporting Visionary Art
Burning Man is a perfect place to showcase the visionary art of the Benin Kingdom. Their bronze castings demonstrate an early mastery of metalworking and encapsulate a spiritual worldview now lost to time. At an event centered around artistic self-expression and cultural fusion, these remnants of an ancient African civilization can inspire new creative explorations. By supporting this installation, donors enable a vision that honors the past, connects the present, and illuminates the future.
This opportunity to share the splendor of Benin art with the Burning Man community means the world to me. It allows me to honor my ancestors, connect my children to their heritage, support visionary art, and build bridges between cultures. I hope that encountering this installation will inspire others with the same sense of wonder, pride, and possibility that this art has always evoked in me.
FAQs: The Star Kingdom of Oba at Burning Man 2023
Bringing the Star Kingdom of Oba to Burning Man has been a dream of mine for years. As an African artist and mother, sharing my cultural heritage with others is incredibly meaningful to me.
The Star Kingdom of Oba project highlights the art and architecture of the historic Benin Kingdom in Nigeria. We are recreating the royal palace and artifacts using natural and recycled materials to demonstrate sustainable building practices that have been used in West Africa for centuries. By showcasing the grandeur of this ancient kingdom, we hope to inspire interest in traditional African art forms and help preserve this important cultural legacy.
A Place of Wonder
For those attending Burning Man, the Star Kingdom will be an oasis of beauty in the desert. The palace will feature magnificent bronze castings, terra cotta rooftops and hand-carved wooden pillars. Surrounding the palace will be a vibrant village with market stalls, performance spaces and communal areas for rest and gathering. My goal is for people to feel transported to another time and place, and leave with a sense of wonder at the stunning artistry and craftsmanship of the Benin people.
Why This Matters
On a personal level, bringing this project to fruition would be incredibly meaningful. As an African creative I want to share the beauty and complexity of my cultural heritage with others. As a mother, I want my children to grow up seeing powerful examples of African art, history and achievement. And as a supporter of the arts, I believe all people should have access to the cultural treasures of our world. The Star Kingdom of Oba can help make that possible.
This is a chance to bring the magnificence of Benin to new audiences. I hope you’ll consider supporting our efforts to share this important piece of African history with the world. The Star Kingdom of Oba will be an unforgettable experience for all who enter its gates.
As I look ahead to 2023, I can’t help but feel a mix of emotions. Pride in what we’ve accomplished, excitement for what’s to come, and a little nervousness that we won’t do justice to this legendary kingdom. But when I see the passion of our team and the artisans, I know that together we will create something magical. Something that honors the legacy of greatness that is Benin. Something that inspires people of African descent and gives us a connection to a history that is too often overlooked.
This project is a chance for me to give back to my culture and to empower other artists. It’s an opportunity to build new connections and share the beauty of Benin with 80,000 eager explorers. Though the challenges may feel immense, the potential rewards fuel my determination. When that first visitor wanders in awe through the gates of our star kingdom, when a child learns about their history in a whole new way, when an artist finds their voice – that will make all the struggles worthwhile. This is a chance to continue a legacy of greatness, and I plan to seize it. The Kingdom of Benin will rise again at Burning Man!
Consider donating here.