Nnenna Okore is an artist from Nigeria, who is currently based in the US. Born in 1975, Okore took an interest in art from a young age, and after finishing secondary school, chose to study this subject at the University of Nigeria. Although she is now famed for her sculptural pieces, Okore focused on painting while studying at this institute, and only began to explore three-dimensional surfaces during her postgraduate years. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in 1999, she went on to study at the University of Iowa, and it was here that she earned both her MA and MFA.
As an art lover, Tunde Folawiyo may be aware that Okore is known for favouring discarded materials; items such as newspapers, magazines and fabric feature heavily in her work. She uses a variety of methods to re-shape and assemble these items, including sewing, waxing, weaving, tearing and fraying, aiming to create forms which mimic the intricate designs often found in nature; the finished pieces are often made up of an array of textures and patterns. The use of found objects serves as a nod to the wastefulness and excessive consumerism which plagues society, while the organic quality of the materials symbolises aging, death and decay.
Okore’s work has been exhibited in several places in London, including the October Gallery, and the headquarters of Channel 4. In addition to this, her pieces have also been displayed in New York, at the Museum of Arts and Design, and at the Goethe Institute in Nigeria. The latter is a venue that most Nigerians, including Tunde Folawiyo, are probably familiar with.
Some of her most successful solo shows include Textile, which was hosted by the Blachere Foundation Art Centre, Reflection, which was held at the Contemporary African Art Gallery, and Affrika West, an exhibition hosted in the UK at the Oriel Mostyn Gallery. Okore has also participated in several group shows, which have been hosted at the Tang Museum and the Middlebury College Museum of Art.
In 2012, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, which enabled her to spend a year working on her art in her homeland of Nigeria. She has also been featured in a number of well-known art publications, including an issue of the famous Sculpture Magazine. Currently, Okore works at North Park University as an Assistant Professor of Art.