Odili Donald Odita

(American, b. Nigeria 1966)

Negative Space, 2019

Series of thirteen flags on flagpoles

Long-term loan, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Ongoing | Through 2026

The design and color of Negative Space are inspired by the American flag. Here, red, white, and blue are met with their complementary colors: green, black, and orange. Complementary colors are found opposite of each other on the color wheel. When used together, the colors work to both enhance and contrast each other. 

The number of flags corresponds to the 13 original colonies of the United States. Odili Donald Odita chose to engage with color theory to thoughtfully examine the crisis of immigration, the separation of migrant families, and the current state of naturalization in the United States. The artist believes that much like the unison of complementary colors, the integration of different countries, nationalities, and races can enhance and complement one another. 


University of Houston

Ezekiel W. Cullen Building

April 9, 2021 artist conversation featuring Odili Donald Odita. Moderated by María C. Gaztambide, PhD, Director and Chief Curator of Public Art UHS.

Take a virtual tour of Negative Space at the University of Houston led by Public Art UHS curator, Mike Guidry.

Create your own flag inspired by Odili Donald Odita’s Negative Space.

Student reactions: Watch how several University of Houston students react to Odili Donald Odita’s Negative Space.

Learn about the dual identity meaning behind Negative Space and how it relates to this UH student.

Learn more about Odili Donald Odita and his work.