(Abstract female figure)

John W. Rhoden

This bronze sculpture is the maquette for Nesaika, the sculpture commissioned for the 1976 opening of the Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum (AAHCM), now the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP). The final sculpture outside the museum at 701 Arch Street is 9 ½ feet tall, mounted on a 2 ft tall base and weighs 1400 pounds. According to the African American Museum in Philadelphia archives, “The name is derived from a Chinook jargon of a West African trade language and simply means, ‘us’, ‘we’, or ‘our.’ Mr. Rhoden describes this work as ‘Neo-Africanism’ which is to translate the aesthetics and essence of African art into the American cultural language of sculpture. This piece is derived from Rhoden’s work with African craftsmen, study of the art of the Americas, the Maya, rock hieroglyphics, the stylized forms of the Eskimo of the Ipiutak culture, the totems and native crafts of the American Indian. Rhoden used all of these forms to create a unity of heritage.” In a statement provided to the about Nesaika Rhoden said, “The forms of ‘Nesaika’ very much represent her name, ‘a people.’ The thrust of the central figure shows determination and energy that the people expend to make their realization. The search is exemplified in the force of the upsurging shapes, which terminates into the wholeness of the shape of the universe, the North, South, East and West. It holds the embodiment of the people who have come from the four corners of the Earth into this great now of our time. The combination of centuries of finding the way. The transformation of an idea into a reality that is embodied in ‘Nesaika.’ In the turn around, you’ll find that the figure has become he who proceeds and ultimately, he who gives to the world, the need for an open future.”
Date of Birth
ca. 1976
Bronze on metal base
19 x 7 x 3 in. (48.26 x 17.78 x 7.62 cm.)
Accession #
Credit Line
The John Walter Rhoden and Richanda Phillips Rhoden Collection