Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

If it weren’t for word of mouth, Yoruba artist Olówè of Isè might have remained eternally “Anonymous,” with no birth certificate, no sales receipts, and no mention in an encyclopedia. His colorful and elaborate veranda posts, figures, and door panels, decorating several palaces throughout Yoruba country, hardly garnered a “Who made this?” in colonial Nigeria, according to National Museum of African Art Director Rosyln A. Walker. But over 10 years of talking to his descendants and digging up photographs of his work in situ, Walker found a praise song recognizing Olówè as “He…who carves the irókò# tree with the ease of carving a calabash.” From delicately chiseled hairstyles to shields and mirror cases, the artist skillfully breathed life into the inanimate. Walker discusses her research and signs copies of Oló#wè# of Isè: A Yoruba Sculptor to Kings at 2 p.m. at the National Museum of African Art’s Lecture Hall, 950 Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 357-4600. (Ayesha Morris)