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Chief Nike Okundaye:An Odyssey Through the Years
May 5 – June 17, 2017
The Gallery at Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center
2785 Frederick Douglass Blvd. @ 148th Street,
New York, NY 10039
Curated by Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center and Harlem Needle Arts
Gallery hours: Tuesday-Thursday 10am-8pm | Wednesday 12pm-6pm | Friday by Appointment Only | Saturday 10am-4pm
Chief (Mrs.) Nike Okundaye: An Odyssey Through the Years
Opens at Harlem’s premier art gallery the LeRoy Neiman Art Center
May 5 to June 17, 2017
Harlem, New York – The first solo exhibit for international artist Chief (Mrs.) Nike Okundaye opened last night at Harlem’s Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center. Traveling to New York from Nigeria for this momentous opening, Chief Nike was greeted by collectors, admirers and friends.
Chief Nike Okundaye: An Odyssey Through the Years showcases work of her transformation of indigenous Yoruba Adire textile symbols into contemporary works in acrylic, pen and ink on canvas. An Odyssey Through the Years amplifies one woman’s overarching goal to emancipate herself while giving a voice to the voiceless as she empowers women and families through their Nigerian roots.
Featured as one of OkayAfrica.com’s The Best African Art in 2014, a lecturer at Harvard University, and countless honors, Chief Nike is the epitome of a “Renaissance Woman” carrying the torch as an artist, social entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
In her remarks at the opening reception, Chief Nike embraced the audience and shared her journey into the world of art. A journey which continues to shape her overarching mission to empower and keep art and culture alive.
Having left school at primary six level and no formal education, Chief Nike taught herself English and learned art from her great grandmother Madam Ibitola, who was an Adire textile maker and dyer of fabric, weaver, embroider and painter. Renowned for her dedication to building Nigerian communities through art, Chief Nike is a multi-talented individual who serves as Managing Director of the Nike Centre for Art and Culture, in Osogbo, along with serving as owner and curator for Nike Art Galleries in Lagos, Osogbo, Ogidiljumu and Abuja.
Art plays an essential role in the lives of the African people and their communities. It serves a much more vital purpose than merely to beautify the human environment, as art is usually employed in contemporary Western societies.
The arts of the African continent combine beauty of form with rich cultural significance that can be appreciated by visitors of all ages. These brilliantly created objects express fundamental cultural beliefs and provide powerful statements about the artists and societies who create them. The glory of African art is simply an element of its function, for these objects would not be effective if they were not aesthetically pleasing. Its beauty and its content thus combine to make art the vehicle that ensures the survival of traditions, protects the community and the individual, generate livelihood for the artist and tells much of the person or persons who use it.
All artworks presented in this exhibition are my original works from time past and they show the depth in beauty, grace and creativity of African arts. To me art is full of life and life is full of art.
“One of the great things about an opening reception is that it’s an amazing chance to celebrate the artist and her achievements. Last night’s opening reception was a wonderful and generous occasion. Watching Chief Nike as she interacted with gallery visitors sharing her art techniques, visual vocabulary and Yoruba belief structures was truly inspirational. We were all illuminated by her radiance and her workmanship in this exhibition, An Odyssey Through the Years, is reflective of her regal style and culture”, says Marline A. Martin, Curator/Executive Director, LeRoy Neiman Art Center.
Chief Nike continues to expand the narrative and importance of cultural identity while fusing contemporary elements of lifestyle design through fashion and home decor. Her artistic expression has launched her into the global spotlight to garner her scholarly honors, features and awards. Most notably, Chief Nike has been honored by the Detroit Institute of Art 2016; Kogi State Women Association of Nigeria, Women Inspirational Award, 2014; Ordine Della Stella Della Solidarieta Italiana award for her work in using art to solve the problems of Nigerian prostitutes in Italy; and featured in documentary films and series including Kindred Spirits produced by the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC and CNN series African Voices.
The Nike Centre for Art and Culture admits undergraduate students from many universities in Nigeria, Europe, Canada and the United States of America to study industrial textile design. Additionally, international researchers convene at the center to examine the processes of the centuries old dyeing tradition of Yoruba Adire and African traditional dyeing methods.
“As a curator, the opportunity to share a living legacy such as Chief Nike, with the community at large, is an important milestone in the history of art, both on the global stage but of particular importance the opportunity to share with the Harlem community. Chief Nike is among the luminaries that continue to be a part of the greats that paved the way to empower communities through art, literature and culture,” says curator and executive director Michelle Bishop, Harlem Needle Arts.
Chief Nike Okundaye: An Odyssey Through the Years is presented by Arts Horizons LeRoy Neiman Art Center and Harlem Needle Arts. Curated by Michelle Bishop and Marline Martin with Donovan Nelson. On exhibit through June 17, 2017