Contemporary African Art Exhibition Series


“Ā Much of my inspiration stems from my childhood years at Nsukka, a small university town in southeastern Nigeria. As a child, I was fascinated by the social, natural, and man-made conditions in bucolic dwellings around the University campus, where I resided. Embedded within the rural landscape were evocative imageries captured by its rocky slopes, humongous ancient trees, and architectural structuresā€¦

Of all the aspects of rural life that inspired me, the use of discarded objects and found materials in coping with poor economic conditions, had the most profound impact on me. It is reflected in the visual content and imagery of my works, which by virtue of these influences, celebrate the transformation of discarded materials into cultural objects, forms, and spaces; and bring a critical focus to bear on the consumption and recycling cultures in parts of Nigeria. My materials include newspapers, wax, cloth, rope, clay and sticks and I apply various repetitive and labor-intensive techniques, like weaving, twisting, sewing, dyeing, waxing and rolling, which were learned by watching villagers perform everyday tasks. These processes accentuate colors, textures and other visceral qualities of my sculptures.

Presently, I am invested in exploring forms that are inspired by intimate spaces, shelters and natural habitats. I am also interested in discovering new ways of reflecting tactile qualities and social values associated with the African fabrics, using multitudinous ceramic elements. As I continue to investigate these materials and processes from my past and present environs, I hope my works resonate deeply with, and speak to the aesthetics of people from diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences.ā€

Raised in Nsukka, Nigeria, Nnenna Okore has emerged as one of the foremost artists of her generation. Her largely abstract works are inspired by textures, colors and landscapes of her milieu. Finding reusable value in discarded materials, Okore enriches her work with layers of meaning through familiar processes. Both in her home country Nigeria and the United States, she relies on the use of flotsam or discarded objects, which are transformed into intricate sculpture and installations through repetitive and labor-intensive techniques. Some of her processes include weaving, sewing, rolling, twisting and dyeing, which she learned by watching local Nigerians perform daily tasks. Most of Okore's works explore detailed surfaces and organic formations.

Nnenna Okore is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Art Department at North Park University, Chicago, where she teaches Sculpture, Spatial Art, Advanced Studio, Two and Three Dimensional Design, Drawing I, Non-western Art History and Video Art. She earned her B.A degree in Painting from the University of Nigeria (First Class Honors) in 1999, and an M.A and M.F.A. in Sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2004 and 2005. She has received several national and international awards and been shown in numerous prestigious galleries and museums within and outside the United States. She recently completed a 2010 summer residency in Apt, France, and was selected to participate in the prestigious 29th Sao Paulo Biennial held in Brazil.

Expanding her reach into the visual arts, she began developing her work on a theoretical level through painting and has consequently exhibited in Nigeria, United Kingdom and Belgium including two major solo exhibitions in Lagos, 2003 and London, 2007. She established the Christopher Okigbo Foundation in 2005, which is tasked with researching and preserving the legacy of Christopher Okigbo, poet (1932-1967).



Life After, Noyes Art Centre, Evanston, IL   2010
Textile, Blanchere Foundation Art Centre, Apt, France   2010
Recovered Energies, Bekris Gallery, San Francisco, CA, USA   2010
Absurd Beauty, Northeastern Illinois University Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA   2010
Strings and Patterns, Viterbo University Gallery, La Crosse, WI   2009
Anyanwu, Carl A. Fields Centre Gallery, Princeton University, NJ   2009
Twisted Ambience, Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago, IL   2009
Of Earth....Barks and Topography, Goethe Institut, Lagos, Nigeria.   2009
Twisted Ambience, Chicago Cultural Center.   2009
Ulukububa-Infinite Flow, October Gallery, London.   2008
Moonlight Tales, Tall Grass Association, (Chicago) Park Forest   2008
Affrika West, Oriel Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno, Wales   2008
Reflection: A Nigerian Experience, Contemporary African Art Gallery, New York City.   2007
Sub-consciousness, Adam Hall Gallery, Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois   2007
Betwixt and Between, Carlson Gallery, North Park University, Chicago   2006
Trans-figuration, Robert F. DeCaprio Art Gallery, Moraine Valley Community College, IL   2006
Paper to Paper, Armature Art Gallery, University of Iowa   2005
Accumulations, Arts Iowa City, Iowa City, IA   2004
Re-presented, Armature Gallery, University of Iowa   2003
Beyond the Lines, Didi Museum, Lagos, Nigeria   2002
Metaphors, Alternative Space, Lagos, Nigeria   2001


Scratch, presented by Sakshi Gallery at Latit Kala Akademi, New Delhi India   2010
(Re-) Cycles of Paradise, UN COP16, Cancun, Mexico   2010
29th Sao Paulo Biennial, Sao Paulo, Brazil   2010
Textile, Blanchere Foundation Art Centre, Apt France   2010
(Re-) Cycles of Paradise, UNCOP15, Copenhagen, Denmark   2009
Common Ground, Bekris Gallery, San Francisco, CA   2009
In Progress, Group show at Calson Tower Gallery, North Park University, Chicago, IL   2009
Trash Menagerie, Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA   2009
Paper to Pulp, Howard County Centre for the Arts, Ellicott City, MD   2009
Transvangarde, October Gallery, London.   2009
Chance Encounters, Sakshi Gallery, India   2009
Object of A Revolution, Galerie Dominique Fait, Paris.   2009
Trace/Memory, Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL   2009
Afganza Africa, October Gallery, London   2008
Channel4 Art Exhibition, Channel4/Art4 Gallery, London   2008
Second Lives: Remixing the Ordinary, Museum of Art and Design, New York City,   2008/2009
Refabrication, Carlson Gallery, North Park University   2008
Clay and Fibre, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago   2008
Joburg Art Fair, (sponsored by October Gallery) Sandton Convention Center, Johannesburg, SA   2008
Trading Spaces, Binghamton University, NY, March 14-March 31   2008
African Contemporary Art Exhibition, Dakar Biennale, Senegal   2006
Twelfth SOFA International Exposition, Chicago   2005
8th International Open Exhibition, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL. Juror, Lynne Warren, Curator at MCA   2005
Migrations, Legion Arts CSPS, Cedar Rapids, IA. Curator: Mel Andringa, Executive Director, Legion Arts   2003
Units, Legion Arts CSPS, Cedar Rapids, IA   2003
New Works, Armature Gallery, University of Iowa. Curator: Thomas Aprile, Professor of Art, University of Iowa   2002
New Energies, Nimbus Gallery and Mydrim Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria Curator: Prof. El Anatsui, University of Nigeria   2001


Artist Residency, Jean Paul Blachere Foundation, Apt France   2010
Artist in residence, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Massachusetts   2010
North Park University Faculty Project Grant   2008
Residency at Instituto Rural de Arte Hoz del Jucar, Spain   2007
UNESCO-Aschberg Fellowship for Artists (Gruber Jez Foundation, Mexico)   2007
Red Gate Residency, Beijing, China   2006
North Park University Research Award   2005
Graduate Assistantship, University of Iowa   2005
Emma McAllister Novel Scholarship, University of Iowa   2004
Teaching Assistantship, University of Iowa   2002-2005
Valedictorian (Fine Arts), University of Nigeria   1999
First prize, UNIFEM Womenā€™s Art Contest, Lagos, Nigeria   1994
First prize, UNICEF African Childā€™s Day Art Contest, Mbabane, Swaziland   1993


Nigerian Art Marketā€¦.says, Nnenna Okore, by McPhillip Nwachukwu, Vanguard   2010
Material Meaning, by Jessica Hemmings, Wasafiri Magazine, Issue 63   2010
Into the Art of Africa, by Elizabeth Upper, Above Magazine   2010
Contemporary African Art Since 1980, By Okwui Enwezor & Chika Okeke-Agulu   2009
New Order, by Chika Okeke-Agulu, Arise Magazine   2009
Nnenna Okereā€™s artā€¦recycled material installation, by Jessica Kronika, The Examiner   2009
Visual Arts: 5 artists ā€˜paperā€™ the arts center, by Mike Giuliano, Howard County Times   2009
From Rags to Riches with Art, by Vanessa Offiong, Weekly Trust   2009
The goddess of small thingsā€¦,by Victor Ehikhamenor, Next   2009
Contemporary Art Auction in Lagos, by Emmanuel Anyifite, Next   2009
Okore, Enwonwu, Onabrakpeya, Anatsui, Kentridge others in London's art auction, by Chuka Nnabuife and Emmanuel Agozino, Nigerian Compass   2009
Top African Artists in focus at first British auction of contemporary African Art, by VANGUARD Newspaper   2009
Art of Africa, by Simon de Burton, Financial Times   2009
Groundbreaking African Artists In Spotlight At First British Auction Of Contemporary African Art At Bonhams, by Julian Roup, Bonham Headline   2009
Artist to Watch: Nnenna Okore, by Katy Donoghue, Whitewall Magazine, Spring Issue   2009
Studio Visit with Nnenna Okore: Art from Discarded and Found Things, Next   2009
Using Old Materials to Put a New Face on the Museum, by Roberta Smith, New York Times   2008
Mind Openers-Women Artist in Africa, by Barbara Murray, Farafina Magazine, No 8,   2007
The Yam is King, by Obi Nwakama, Farafina Magazine, No. 7   2006
As Dakā€™art Beckons, by Ugochukwu Uwaerzuoke, This Day   2006
8th International Open, Exhibition Announcement by Woman Made Gallery   2005
Chasing the Paper Trails with Vision, by Vidya Murthy, Daily Iowan   2003
Plenty Art Shows, lean Patrons, by Chukka Nnabuife, The Guardian   2002
The Metaphors of Today, by Victor Ikwele, National Interest   2001
New Energies, rebellion against the old, by Ozolua Uhakheme, The Guardian   2001
The Real Values Beyond the Tags, by Okechukwu Uwaezuoke, The Comet   2001


Jean Paul Blachere Foundation, France    
Indianapolis Art Center, Indiana    
Royal Family of Abu Dhabi    
Art House Contemporary Limited, Nigeria    
October Gallery, London, UK    
Channel 4, London, UK    
Renaissance Capital, Moscow, Russia    
Daraja Art Foundation, London, UK    
Farafina Magazine, Lagos, Nigeria   2004
Kenna and Associated Law Firm, Lagos, Nigeria   2002-2005