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Oyotunji Village/Yemoja Priests

1981 Marilyn Nance Born: New York, New York 1953 gelatin silver print sheet: 15 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (40.4 x 50.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase made possible by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment and the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program © 1981, Marilyn Nance 1994.66.3 Not currently on view

Exhibition Label

In 1981, Nance traveled to Beaufort County, South Carolina, to photograph the people of Oyotunji Village, a small community founded in 1970 that combined Black Nationalist ideology with aspects of Yoruba and Fon (Nigerian) culture. The traditional apparel worn by the Yemoja priests and the markings on the buildings give an otherworldly feel to the scene. But in the center, between the structures, Nance included a car that identities the picture as a modern image. Nance shot and printed the photograph with the crisp tonality characteristic of the documentary style for which she is well known.

African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond, 2012


Ceremony - religion

Figure group

Landscape - South Carolina - Sheldon

Occupation - religion - clergy

photography - photoprint


gelatin silver

About Marilyn Nance

Born: New York, New York 1953

More works in the collection by
Marilyn Nance