For Kodilinye Igwe, returning to Penn State to donate two of his wood sculptures to the University was like “coming home.” A native of Nigeria who received his Ph.D. in Art Education from Penn State in 1988, he unveiled the two sculptures during a ceremony on Friday, March 30, at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center.
“This is my home,” said Igwe, expressing his appreciation for the faculty and other members of the Penn State community who guided him during his doctoral studies. He created the sculptures, titled “International Ministries” and—appropriately—“Coming Home,” in honor of his professors, as well as friend and International Christian Fellowship founder Bill Saxton.
In attendance at the ceremony was Robert Lima, Penn State professor emeritus of Spanish and comparative literature and a member of Igwe’s dissertation committee. “This is one of the most wonderful people I have ever known in my life,” said Lima. “And it’s been a real pleasure since the beginning, being on his doctoral committee, and seeing his accomplishments. I’m a ‘survivor’ of your committee.”
Lima called Igwe a survivor because he is a true survivor, having suffered through a civil war in his home country.
According to College of Arts and Architecture Dean Barbara Korner, Igwe is an “excellent example of a survivor in the greatest sense of the word.”
“He is an example of a survivor who then goes on to thrive, and takes his life story and his talents and makes a big difference.”
Igwe has been on the art faculty at Claflin University in South Carolina since 1990, serving as chair of the art department from 1990 to 1998. He earned a master of arts in education at Rhode Island School of Design, and a bachelor of fine arts (with distinction) in textiles at the California College of Arts and Crafts. At Claflin, he currently teaches courses in art and general education.
He said he created “Coming Home” and “International Ministries” to portray a sense of universality and “to reveal the symbols of my past as the evidence of a productive present.”
“I donate these pieces because, in my culture, that which is close is precious. My hope is to educate and enrich humanity, and to continue my life after I leave this world. Giving is a constant for me. Giving is an art for me.”
The “International Ministries” sculpture is on display at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, and “Coming Home” is displayed in Patterson Building, administrative home of the School of Visual Arts.
Igwe previously donated sculptures to Penn State in 2005 and 2011.