Untitled by Susanne Wenger

Susanne Wenger (Austrian, 1915-2009). Untitled, c. 1960. Screenprint. Gift of Graham and Maryagnes Kerr. Copyright estate of Susanne Wenger. Photo by Bruce M. White.

Between the Sweet Water and the Swarm of Bees brings together nine screen prints and one wax batik by Austrian artist Susanne Wenger (1915-2009), who lived and worked in Nigeria for nearly 60 years.

These prints and batik are syncretic compositions of oriki (praise poetry about Yoruba deities such as Obàtálá and Osun) and European mythology. The depictions are extensions of the Osun sacred grove, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which Wenger redesigned in the 1960s.

Although Osun was a significant figure in Wenger’s work, Obàtálá, who is charged with forming every human being, ultimately influenced her the most. Six months after Wenger arrived in Osogbo, she fell ill with tuberculosis. She attributed her recovery one year later to the god Obàtálá and not only created work depicting his stories but also became a priestess in the Obàtálá society. 
The series was given to the Carlos Museum by Graham and Maryagnes Kerr, who purchased the works from the artist at her home in Osogbo, Nigeria in 1965. The prints, ephemera, and batik in this collection are rare and have never before been exhibited together.