For some time, visual art was somewhat of a hobby and second to my aspiration to become a medical doctor. Upon matriculating at my undergraduate university, I had decided, though I would be taking many science courses, that each semester I would take at least one visual art class. The first such course was Introductory Painting. After completing this class, I literally saw the world differently. My eyes had become attuned to the most finite details. And all of a sudden, the nuanced hues and tones in seemingly solid colors became discernable.
I was hooked and when it came time to declare a major, I selected Art History with a minor in visual art, the closest major to visual art that was offered by my school. With my degree in tow, I still had the option of pursuing a professional degree in the sciences, having completed most of the courses required to enroll in medical school. In the end it became clear that no profession proved to be more intellectually challenging, fulfilling and malleable than that of a visual artist.
I grew up in Lower Gwynedd, a small town outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US. My first school was called Blue Bell Elementary and I continued in that public school system, Wissahickon School District, through high school. Subsequently, I attended Princeton University. A few months after graduating, I moved to New York City.
After relocating to New York City, I was hired by Sotheby’s Auction House and then worked for two contemporary art galleries. After about three years of making artwork and simultaneously working as an arts administrator, I grew restless. I wanted to spend more time making work and saw graduate school as the only way out.
I did not receive a master’s in the fine arts but chose to pursue a degree in Curatorial Studies and Critical Art Theory at Columbia University in the city of New York. I felt that rather than focus on technical skills, it was more important for me to make artwork while learning about art - historical trajectories that had come to interest me following my undergraduate years.
My medium is very, very mixed and I hope that it becomes more so. Generally speaking, I am a fabric collage artist who is addicted to drawing with pencil and pen. The majority of my work lingers between representation and abstraction, and is in limbo between two and three dimensions. Though I am innately a sculptor, a maker of objects, much of my formal training was in painting; so many painters’ materials frequent my practice.
Typically, the presentation of my work, no matter the constituents, tends to be site-specific and thereby engages the medium of installation. I try my best not to limit the materials I use in my work and prefer to allow the ideas determine which mediums are most fitting. In the near future, and largely due to my experience of late, I hope to explore metal and wood to produce free-standing sculptures.
Often times, my creativity is triggered by the most random visual imagery in my surroundings. It seems that anything in my surroundings, from my grandmother’s tiles to foodstuffs can inform the conceptual and formal decisions, which govern my work.
Through my work, I seek to expose contemporary forms of communication, from online forums to text messaging and good, old-fashioned conversations conducted in-person. Additionally, my work takes into account adornment and growth, conflating bodily, plant-based and digital forms. With specific imagery related to the previously mentioned topics, I create patterns that reference human habit, textile, and the propensity with which history becomes repetitive. I then disrupt these rigid constructs to reference purposed human intervention.
Best work so far
An artist selecting his or her favourite work is like a mother publicly naming her favourite child. I don’t think I have one, two, or five.
Least satisfying work
Most times, it’s going through work that is less than fantastic that gets me to my strongest bodies of work. The not-so-great ones typically remain hidden in the studio; though a select few have been presented in public. Usually those works that I don’t particularly love eventually become integrated into new works. I have never thrown a piece of artwork away and never plan to.
My first museum showing at the Perm Museum of Contemporary Art in Russia was quite an important moment for me. So was my first biennale showing, which happened at the ‘Crazy Curators’’ Biennale in Slovakia. Both of these exhibitions took place last year. And though it was not a particularly grandiose showing, my most recent exhibition, New ‘Paintings’ at S&S Hotels and Suites, was quite significant for me.
Favourite artist, living or dead
So far, my favorite artists are Mark Bradford, Max Ernst, Alfredo Jaar, Isaac Julien, Wangechi Mutu, J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, Kiki Smith, and Richard Tuttle. With every passing day, there is a chance that I will discover another artist whom I consider to be innovative beyond measure.
With my work, I hope to create channels for communication that exceed the communicative references from which my work is derived. In aiming to do so, I will continue to work within a space that tinkers with representation, without striving to be solely representational. I also hope that my work, projects, and writing can abet efforts to expand the realm of the visual arts to as general a public as possible, internationally-yes, but especially in Nigeria. Finally, I would very much like to continue learning from and sharing with my peers through innovative collaborations and projects.