March 16 2011 12:00 AM

’Culture ambassador’ from Benin shares his art


Born in the West African republic of Benin, Pierre Adjibogoun learned wood carving at age 8 from his father. As an adult, he has made it his career.

Adjibogoun’s work — from wood sculptures to hand-made necklaces and earrings, from batiks to tie-dyes — is on display in the "Reflections of Life" show, through March 31, at Grove Gallery Co-op in East Lansing.

Adjibogoun, who lives in Lansing and gives his age as "over 40," has been a woodcarver for 23 years; with a chisel, he can carve practically anything from a piece of wood.

“Sometimes the images are in my mind and I just take the wood and carve it. Sometimes when I look at the wood, it tells me what I can make,” Adjibogoun said. “It’s a gift for me.”

He particularly enjoys working with ebony wood, known in his homeland as "black gold."

He calls himself a “culture ambassador” and said he wants to share his Pierre Adjibogoun’s woodcarvings include this large mask. background with Americans through his work. After 10 years in the U.S., Adjibogoun feels he has successfully blended two cultures in his art.

Most of his work is inspired by what he sees around him.

Themes are always cheerful: people dancing, lovers hugging, happy families.

Adjobogoun also specializes in tie-dye and batik, which he learned from his mother.

Before coming to U.S. in 2001 with his former wife, who was from the area, Adjibogoun operated his own gallery in Cotonou, Benin, in which he met people from all over the world and shared art with them.

Adjibogoun said cherishing life and valuing the family are his philosophies.

“I want to show people how to love, how to be happy and make them think about life and appreciate life.”

Pierre Adjibogoun: "Reflections of Life”

Through March 31 Grove Gallery Co-op 325 Grove St., East Lansing Hours: Noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; Noon-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

(517) 333-7180