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iamthenublack: Toyin Odutola

tumblr_kr9p8cemnW1qzwh9fo1_500introduce yourself

I am an artist, recent BA graduate currently applying for MFA candidacy for the 2010/11 academic year. I am Nigerian born, mainly American raised. I am aware that what and who I am encompasses a hyphenated identity and I am fine with that, although I like to associate myself more with the generic Black American identity of womanhood.

I create mainly portraits composed of pen and ink manipulations in meticulous and multifaceted marks to make up Black subjects and the intricacies of Black identity. I consider myself rather candid and am very much into confessional art such as those exemplified by Frida Kahlo and Tracey Emin. I like to explore power dynamics, control, sexuality and gender politics in my work. I love engaged conversation in any sort of intellectual forum. I am up for anything and open to everything.

fav lyric from a song

Feeling like a woman,Looking like a man, Sounding like a no-no, Mating when I can,

Whistling in the darkness, Shining in the night, Coming to conclusions, Night is right is tight,

– Walking in the Rain, Grace Jones

who and what inspires you?

My mother and father for being such a stronghold for my family and believing in my work always; as well as Chimamanda Adichie, the incredible Igbo writer of such books Purple Hibiscus and Half of the Yellow Sun.

The Benin Kingdom’s artistic explorations and achievements, particularly the bronze casting masks introduced in the late 1200s, which were the first of it’s kind in world art history–this is specifically inspiring for the area in which the Benin Kingdom existed is within the allocated geographical location where I was born and grew up as a child. Anything produced by Zadie Smith always speaks volumes to me, esp. on multiculturalism and identity.

The same can be said about bell hooks writings, particularly those on Black representation and female sexuality and identity. GRACE JONES: her whole essence, what she represents, what she has accomplished, what she continues to do…everything. He name is an inspiration. And any sort of meditative music always facilitates my work and progress, such as trip hop, R&B, alternative, industrial, and trance. Anything by Thierry Le Goues; his work give me Stendhal syndrome every time I see it. Having any sort of opportunity or deadline to share my work in a public dialogue is incredibly inspiring–whether it be a in an exhibition or an online forum.

This may sound rather vague, even cryptic, though I don’t mean it to, but the 90s era has recently been of immense influence, particularly the developments revolving around the youth culture — politics, sex, film, &etc such explorations and the like seem so much more prominent and poignant now that my generation is moving into ours 20s and discovering that it is our turn to make a mark in some way as a generations before us have done.

Oftentimes I feel the major decisions affecting us have been made for us by those who have either come before us or coming into the fray after us. I honestly believe it is our time now to make a valid stand, and I think the Obama presidential campaign was only a taste of that. Apathy, I guess is what inspires me to be passionate. To make my work and to show it to people to acknowledge, learn, understand, and inspire.

And finally, I would have to say my family heritage: a combination of the Yoruba and Igbo tribes of Nigeria. The idea of sameness and contrasts, togetherness and distinction, within a country and within me are extremely influential. These who parts of my identity, that of my Nigerian (Yoruba and Igbo) with the American feed significantly into my work and are always there in my mind as I develop my artistic methodology.

icons past & present

Zadie Smith, Kara Walker, Grace Jones, bell hooks, Michael Eric Dyson, Thierry Le Goues, Frida Kahlo, Yinka Shonibare, Kehinde Wiley, Wole Soyinka, Jackson Pollock, Lucio Fontana (the conceptual artist/minimalist), Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Patti Smith.

the nublack philosophy/mantra according to Toyin Odutola

I remember writing a blog entry that I feel still pertains to who I am, what I do, and what I prescribe to so I will include it here:

“Art-making is…lovemaking, as far as I’m concerned. There is an element of sacrifice and giving, as well as receiving, that is reminiscent of the same act. The yearning for art-making as well as the ecstatic thrill of being in the thick of the process, is strikingly similar to act of making love — without question, they are interchangeable to me.”

In essence, to make art is to make love and to spread and exhibit art is to promote and inspire love.

Check me out

My website

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