Toledo Museum of Art Announces SANKOFA CARNIVAL

November 29, 2023





Toledo, OH - November 29, 2023 — The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) announces the opening of Sankofa Carnival, a temporary, digital art-focused experience showcasing the work of TMA’s inaugural Digital Artists in Residency program. Sankofa Carnival will feature never-before-seen work created by TMA’s 2023 artists in residence Osinachi and Yusuf Lateef as four “drops” of collectible digital art. The experience will be open to visitors from December 1 through December 31, 2023, and will culminate in the auction of Osinachi and Yusuf’s original 1 of 1 digital artworks through the Christie’s digital art sale taking place during Miami Art Week 2023.

TMA Labs, born out of TMA’s commitment to utilizing technology to engage communities locally and globally, expands the reach of TMA’s longstanding mission of integrating art into the lives of Toledo’s residents. TMA Labs and the Digital Artist Residency follows TMA’s decades-long success in the world of traditional art and marks its first foray into digital art and NFTs. TMA’s Digital Artist Residency program is kindly sponsored by Buckeye Cable and Block Communications, Inc. and Richard and Denise Arnos. Sankofa Carnival, more of an experience than an exhibition, will feature 5 digital works created by Osinachi, from Nigeria, and Yusuf Lateef, from Toledo, who partnered and mentored each other during their tenures as digital artists in residence at TMA.

Known as Africa’s foremost digital artist, Osinachi's art not only reflects his own identity and experiences but also acts as a statement: establishing his existence as a form of protest of the stereotypes and prejudices that often plague the African continent and diaspora. His work features vibrant figures on colorful backgrounds with subtly moving pieces in the background. Three new and original works by Osinachi, The Mba Assembly, The Picklers, and ABITT: THE SECOND RENAISSANCE IS COMING, will be showcased within Sankofa Carnival. Toledo-based artist, teacher, and community organizer Yusuf Lateef routinely explores the spiritual implications of creation through his work and is fascinated by the way that art can be used as a community-building tool. Often using found materials, Lateef’s work uses vivid colors and layers to create abstract portraits. Lateef’s latest works, Orpheo’s Symphony and Eurydice will be on display at Sankofa Carnival.

• Series One: Titled The Mba Assembly and launching on December 1, the first series consists of 10,000 works for TMA visitors to collect for free upon visiting the museum. The Mba Assembly marks the beginning of the Sankofa Carnival experience. “Mba” is the Igbo word for community, as such, it is here that visitors gather as a community to contribute to a monumental event. This work will feature 10,000 generative portraits of people and animals collaged into compositions arranged by Osinachi from TMA’s event photography archives. In this way, the artist was able to capture the essence of what makes Toledo and its community so special, creating a timestamp for future generations. As a generative body of work, each piece of the series is minted on-demand and stored in visitors’ TMA wallets.

• Series Two: Titled Orpheo’s Symphony and launching on December 23, the second series is a 1,000-count, limited set created by Yusuf Lateef. Orpheo’s Symphony is where myth meets reality. A modern reimagining of the eponymous Orpheus of the 1959 film Black Orpheus, Orpheo is a digital mosaic of American and African influences. This 1,000-edition generative collection incorporates images and patterns from museum archives and photographs from Lateef’s mentor’s time in Ghana and photographs by James Dickerson, a Toledo local, thus highlighting the local-global connection. Orpheo represents the complexities of identity that have been created by the interaction of people and their desire to be together. This work acknowledges the rich relationships within the diaspora and deep scars of colonization. This collection serves as an artistic bridge, connecting the past and the present, the local and the global, in a harmonious composition. This series will only be available to holders of Series One.

• Series Three: Titled The Picklers and launching on December 30, the third series will consist of 100 works made individually by Osinachi created on the Ethereum blockchain. The collection captures the fascinating sport of pickleball. Osinachi’s depiction of pickleball exists as a metaphor for the emotional reciprocity that is required when people are developing relationships and building community. The colorful artistic vision that fills each edition in this collection is a manifestation of the speculative and magical realism that dominates Sankofa Carnival, and an acknowledgment of pickleball as a cultural phenomenon. To obtain a piece from Series Three, collectors must hold works from Series One and Series Two.

• Series Four: Available for bidding from December 5 through December 12, ABITT: THE SECOND RENAISSANCE IS COMING and Eurydice are both rare 1 of 1 digitally native artworks created by Osinachi and Yusuf respectively.

o ABITT encapsulates the spirit of renewal and the promise of a second renaissance. The piece is a clarion call to embrace new beginnings through a deep understanding of culture and history. The piece’s title is a creative interpretation of a TMA slogan: Art Brings Toledo Together.

o Eurydice is the emotional crescendo of the Sankofa Carnival journey. The work represents the loss of Eurydice, a mythological character who died of a viper bite on her wedding day, a day meant to be the highlight of her young life. Lateef’s contemporary interpretation of this tragedy represents the loss of humanity and love some things remain lost forever, and tragedies remain tragic. The work features a young girl staring back from behind a protest sign and is inspired by black-and-white 1960’s protest images. The work references ideas of antiquity and the modern-day struggles for human rights' fleeting nature.

o Both works will be minted on the Ethereum blockchain and will be sold via Christie’s’ digital art auction marketplace.

Eurydice, 2023 Yusuf Lateef
Participants will be able to mint and store unique collectibles from Series One, Two, and Three through a custom TMA digital wallet, supported on the Web3 platform Mojito. The rollout for TMA’s digital wallet includes clear instructions for wallet creation and artwork minting as part of TMA’s initiative to familiarize the Toledo community with digitally native artwork and associated technologies. This initiative is a manifestation of the museum’s historic commitment to providing education and access to the Toledo community in the case of Sankofa Carnival, TMA is providing access to new and emerging art technologies. The fourth series will be a stand-alone digital work, the most valuable and primary work of art produced from the inaugural edition of TMA’s Digital Artist residency and will be available for purchase through Christie’s digital art auction marketplace during Miami Art Week 2023.

“We are thrilled to host Sankofa Carnival and to showcase our first Digital Artists in Residence, an important step in supporting and exhibiting artists that work in cutting-edge media,” said Adam Levine, Toledo Museum of Art’s President, Director, and CEO. He continues “the works by Osinachi and Yusuf Lateef highlight the interconnectedness of the Toledo community and beyond. The full Toledo team hopes that this experience resonates with the local community and inspires them to participate in Sankofa-related programming as a means of cultural celebration, expression, or reflection.”

Alongside the art, a museum-wide scavenger hunt will be open to visitors to encourage physical engagement with the digital works. The word “Sankofa,” from the Twi language of Ghana meaning “to retrieve,” is used when one continues to move forward, a concept the artists and museum felt appropriate as both parties explore this new world of digital art. Meant to bring people together, Sankofa Carnival will act as a tribute to the global desire for positive change, and the joy and community that is achieved at Carnival celebrations around the world. Developed by Osinachi and Lateef and inspired by their experiences in Toledo, one as a visitor and one as a permanent resident, the pieces shown in Sankofa Carnival are meant to celebrate the people of Toledo and welcome viewers into the communities that the artists have forged during their time in the city.

This contemporary focus on digital art is inspired by TMA’s desire to assume an innovative role in exhibition design and generative art spaces, bringing a focus to artistic works and practices that adopt the use of digital technology as part of the creative process. TMA’s Digital Artist in Residence Program enables artists from around the globe to hone their craft and focus on creation while being afforded access to the museum’s resource hub, TMA Labs. In addition to inviting international artists to participate in the Digital Artist in Residence Program, TMA is also fiercely committed to inviting local artists to engage with the museum’s platform. The museum plans to host speaker series, digital art-related networking events, and expand the Artists in Residence program at TMA Labs.

Sankofa Carnival will be open to the public at the Toledo Museum of Art from December 1 through December 31. Bidding will open for ABITT and Eurydice through Christie’s from December 5 through December 12, and the works will be on display at Gateway Miami from December 6 through December 8.

About the Toledo Museum of Art The Toledo Museum of Art, founded in 1901, has garnered an impressive international reputation for its rich collections, dedicated focus on community engagement and education, and architecturally significant campus in the decades since its opening. TMA is a privately endowed, non-profit institution that is available to the public at no cost. TMA’s leadership team is united under one vision: to become “the model art museum in the United States for its commitment to quality and its culture of belonging.” TMA is committed to maintaining the high standards with which it was founded as it diversifies and expands both its collection and programming calendar.

About TMA Labs TMA Labs, born out of TMA’s commitment to engaging both local and global communities through the utilization of technology, expands the reach of TMA’s longstanding mission of integrating art into the lives of Toledo’s residents. The creation of TMA Labs was inspired by the museum leadership team’s desire to achieve trailblazer status in the web3 and digital art space, following its long-standing success in the world of traditional art. TMA will use TMA Labs as a tool for expanding its community beyond the traditional member list. TMA is focused on targeting three key groups with specialized TMA Labs programming and exhibitions: tech-interested youth, global digital art collectors, and individuals who are generally curious about the future of art. TMA Labs allows the Toledo community to explore, learn, and apply those learnings throughout the museum. It is also a chance for TMA to lean into innovation, one of its core values, and to keep evolving as an organization and an art museum. #SankofaCarnival | IG @ToledoMuseum | FB Toledo Museum | X @ToledoMuseum

Visitor Information The Toledo Museum of Art is a nonprofit arts institution funded through individual donations, foundation grants, corporate sponsorships, and investments. Admission to the Museum is always free. For general information, visitors can call 419-255-8000 or 800-644-6862 or visit

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About Osinachi Aba-born, Lagos-based Osinachi is the inaugural international participant in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Digital Artist in Residency Program. Osinachi creates work that reflects his own personal experiences and communicates with viewers through a uniquely colorful visual language that he has honed over the last fifteen years of his artistic practice. His work inspires conversations about the ways that digital art provokes philosophical considerations about our collective humanity.

For his role as an artist who continues to make a positive impact and inspire others to embrace their creativity and potential, he was named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans for 2022 by New African Magazine. He has also spoken at international events such as Forbes Africa 30 Under 30, Africa Investment Forum, and the Milken Institute Global Conference, often advocating for the collecting of blockchain-based art. He has exhibited at 1-54 African Art Fair, Art X Lagos, Art Basel in Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, Modal at the School of Digital Art (SODA), Manchester Metropolitan University, and more. His work can be seen in the collections of Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Museum of Crypto Art (MoCA), Artnome, WhaleShark, and Tokenangels, among many others. He was recently a part of the Museum of Modern Art's (MoMA) Postcard project, alongside 14 other artists.

About Yusuf Lateef Yusuf Lateef is a visual artist, community educator, and co-founder of the Toledo Black Artist coalition, an organization centered on amplifying people of color and African descent in the arts. His work acts as a vehicle for constant self-reflection and growth, both within himself and his greater community. A painter by trade, Lateef’s collaboration with Osinachi and TMA Labs is his first foray into the world of generative art. Lateef’s studio practice is intuitively driven and he believes his work is a type of "soul speak," communicating the performative nature of art making and the activation of gratitude. He believes his work holds spiritual messages and is guided by a higher purpose. Lateef employs paint, performance, and object making, preferring to use found items. He has completed over 30 murals and has participated in several collaborative projects in communities in Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, Mexico, and Spain. Lateef is currently an adjunct instructor at Bowling Green State University School of Art. His focus is 4D art and developing experiential learning programs.

About Mojito Mojito, the leading platform for NFT commerce and community engagement, is a spin-out from web3 marketing and product studio Serotonin. The world’s biggest brands use Mojito for white-label NFT drops, marketplaces, memberships, and events. Upon launching in 2021, Mojito raised $20 million at a $100 million valuation from strategic investors like Sotheby’s, CAA (Creative Artists Agency) & NEA's Connect Ventures, as well as Moore Capital. To date, Mojito has generated more than $120 million in sales for brands and creators.

About Christie’s Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business with a physical presence in 46 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, and flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. Renowned and trusted for our expert live and online-only auctions, as well as bespoke Private Sales, Christie’s unparalleled network of specialists offers our clients a full portfolio of global services, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education.

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $500 to over $100 million. Christie’s has sold 8 of the 10 most important single-owner collections in history, achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction, launched the first fully on-chain auction platform dedicated to exceptional NFT art and manages an investment fund to support innovative startups in the art market. Christie’s is also committed to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide. To learn more, browse, bid, discover, and join us for the best of art and luxury at or by downloading Christie’s apps. *Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue. *Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium.

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