Many people in the gallery have noticed that while you are working in the studio you are very good at keeping things clean. How do you work on large scale canvases without getting too messy?
I feel like I try to, but honestly I hate cleaning. I try not to be so messy so I don’t have a lot to clean up.
When I first came here, I didn’t have a lot of paint on the floor. Now, as you can see, there’s a lot of paint on the floor. There are diamonds, glitter, and all kinds of stuff. But yeah, I just try to keep it together. I’ll put things down like drop cloths just to minimize the mess, but clearly, paint is paint.
From what I’ve seen at VisArts, you are not only skilled at running a business, but you are also a very prolific artist. Running a business takes up a lot of time and energy, so what do you do to keep up the motivation to create things?
Yeah, that’s always the challenging part. I think I’m very emo in a lot of ways. Sometimes I’ll get into moods where I don’t want to, and even with the weather changing, it gets so hard for me to adjust. But when I feel like creating, I’m creating, and I’m not putting pressure on myself to create if I’m not feeling it.
When it comes to the business side of things, I just try to prioritize what is most important, because obviously, it’s a one-woman operation. I have to be everything for myself, which can be a little daunting sometimes, but I just take it one day at a time. I know that if I don’t get it done today, It’s okay. There’s always tomorrow, Lord willing.
As described on your website, your art is influenced by your Nigerian heritage. However, you also seem to go beyond the realm of making representative artwork. You plan events, design clothes, and decorate homes with this similar influence. Out of everything that you have done on your platform, is there something you’ve done that you feel has significantly impacted your community?
I don’t know if I’ve done anything that has had a super significant impact. I feel like just doing what I do is impactful in a way, because what I do is very unconventional. I think typically, most people that grow up in my culture are not necessarily encouraged to be an artist. It’s nice to know that by just being myself, I’m able to impact other people and show them that it’s possible. A lot of people message me all the time about how inspired they are, and how they want to start painting, because they are seeing me do it.
One more question before we wrap things up. Your VisArts’ bio states that you are a survivor of domestic violence, which is a very traumatic experience for someone to go through. If you are comfortable with sharing your story, could you tell me how you were able to heal from such an event? Were you able to use your artwork to help you move forward?
Yeah! So, I am a mom, and my daughter is four years old now. We came back when she was two, so it’s almost two years ago now at this point. When I came back to this area, I came back with nothing from having to go through the whole divorce process and having to deal with being harassed.
The thing is, domestic violence is not a respecter of persons. It can happen to anybody at any level, at any class, and at any situation in life. It takes a lot of courage to be able to move on from a situation like that, believing that you want better for yourself, and if you have children, for your children. A lot of people don’t make it out, you know what I’m saying? So, I’m grateful that I’ve had this new start on life to be able to do what I love, and to just be able to share and be honest about it.
I’m very blessed to be where I am right now, and I don’t take it for granted. I know that I have a responsibility to share, because I don’t know who might hear this story, or who might come across this. I just know it’s my responsibility now, to let people know that no matter what you’re going through, if you really believe in yourself and believe that things will get better, they will.
That must take a lot of strength to do.
It’s a lot. But having that support system is key too. Community, family, people around you encouraging you, and letting you know that things get better. You just have to take it one day at a time.
Thank you so much for sharing your story.
Thank you for wanting to interview me!
This interview was conducted by Iona Nave Griesmann, a VisArts Intern. They specialize in illustration and are majoring in Graphic Design and Illustration at Montgomery College.