Raised mainly in Nsukka, Nigeria Okore currently resides and works between Chicago and Nigeria. She has emerged as one of the foremost artists of her generation producing extraordinarily unique sculptural pieces of textile-based art.
Studying painting at the University of Nsukka in Nigeria, Nnenna Okore went on to study for an MA and MFA in sculpture in Iowa, USA. She very early on turned from 2 dimensional relief painting to more sculptural forms including large installation pieces that allow her freedom to fully express her love of free-flowing, transformational form and process.
Her works are mostly abstract and textural… inspired essentially by nature, the process of ageing and decay and traditional women’s craft and household practices. The environment, 3rd world economies, waste management and the need for conservation all play a vital role in her conceptual process and found objects inspire her to deconstruct and reconstruct form.
She starts her process with sketches and textural drawings often executed in oil pastels… the former exploring the sculptural possibilities and the latter, textural form and detail. She then chooses her materials and processes to employ on a project while researching stylistic approach to the subject and the history of traditional practice if applicable.
She uses rope, thread, burlap, dye, yarn (both natural and found), coffee, tea, starch, clay, wax and particularly loves paper of any form which she folds, brands, shreds, pulps, sews, glues and laminates.
Other working processes include weaving, twisting, threading, looping, sewing, dyeing, waxing and rolling; there is hardly a technique that hasn’t been explored by this vigorously determined exploratory artist. The end result is richly hued, textured and elaborate, often with several layers… some literally formed to walk underneath or extend along more than one wall.
Sometimes her sculptures are paired with sound and video projections recalling her childhood sounds to provide a multi-dimensional experience.
A major influence in her life was the early mentorship and guidance of master artist El Anatsui who helped her broaden her scope beyond the canvas and transform what was around her into her organic and experimental art.
Nnenna Okore is currently Professor of Art at Chicago’s North Park University. From 2001 to the present she has produced over 40 solo shows and since 1997 participated in over 60 group exhibitions the world over. Prolific, driven and continually pushing boundaries, she has been a worthy recipient of a Fullbright Scholarship.
Link to Bronwen’s original article here.back