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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 17, 2010

PHOTOS: Marilyn Houlberg, George Chemeche, and John Pemberton III

Three leading experts to discuss Yoruba twin figures Oct. 8

Three of the world’s experts on the Yoruba twin figures will headline a symposium held in conjunction with the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) exhibition, "Ere Ibeji: Yoruba Twin Figures from the Collection of J. Richard Simon." Marilyn Houlberg, John Pemberton III, and George Chemeche will speak about the art and culture of the Yoruba people of southwest Nigeria.

The symposium is free and open to the public and will be held Oct. 8 from 2-5 p.m. in Room 101 of the Becker Communication Studies Building on the UI campus. A public reception for the exhibition will take place immediately following the conference at 5:30 p.m. in the Iowa Memorial Union’s North Room.

Houlberg, professor emerita at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, received advanced degrees in art history and anthropology from the University of Chicago and the University of London. Since 1967, she has done extensive fieldwork on the art and ritual of the Yoruba ere ibeji. She will speak about the art and ritual surrounding the ere ibeji in her presentation "Divine Double Trouble: Reflections on the Art and Ritual of Twins among the Yoruba in Nigeria."

Pemberton is a Crosby Professor of Religion, emeritus, at Amherst College in Massachusetts and serves as the consulting curator for African art at the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Mass. He received his B.A. from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from Duke University. He has researched the religion and art of the Yoruba people since 1970, making 14 trips to Nigeria between 1971 and 1992. He has written 31 books and articles, numerous papers and has given 30 public lectures on African studies.

Chemeche is an Israeli American artist and author living in New York City and an expert on Yoruba twin figures. He assisted Professor Simon during the formation of his ere ibeji collection and is the author of "Ibeji: The Cult of the Yoruba Twins and The Horse Rider in African Art," due out this year. He has published numerous books and catalogues for his art exhibitions in Europe, Israel, and the United States. At the conference, he will speak about the artistic merit of the twin figures and will compare the African and Western artists.

The symposium is funded in part by the Project for the Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa (PASALA), an interdisciplinary program of fellowships, scholarships, conferences and publications focused on the visual arts of Africa. PASALA is a program of the UI School of Art and Art History, in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For more information on these and other events, please visit the UIMA’s website,

STORY SOURCE: University News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Steve Parrott, University Relations, 319-384-0037,