Akaraka: What Will Be: Nnenna Okore
My name is Nnenna Mgbore Okore. My parents named after my paternal grandmother as a mark of continuity within my family lineage. Though born in Australia, I spent most of childhood years in Nigeria.
Living and growing up in Nsukka exposed me to a rich tactile and vibrant rural environment, which equally developed my sensibilities towards space. For this reason, I was always drawn to crude, and what others might consider unsightly settings within the hilly and rugged terrains of Nsukka.
My primary and secondary education was completed in Nigeria and Swaziland. I received a first degree in Painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka; by which time, my artistic approach and concepts had a political and socio-economic focus. I paid attention to issues and questions regarding cultural norms and idiosyncrasies associated with consumption and inventive recycling in Nigeria.
Shortly after my undergraduate degree, I relocated to the United States for a graduate program in Sculpture. Moving overseas obviously bore new challenges, as it denied me access to the Nigerian cultural and political environment that largely influenced my creative explorations. However, it allowed me to sever myself culturally and perhaps emotionally, from my earlier directions. I have since expanded my interest to include ideas about materiality, ephemerality and life cycle. I am interested in understanding the role that people, materials and geography play in shaping and defining our ecological landscape.
Though my works have evolved in the last decade, they continue to reveal the uniquely diverse and tactile characteristics of our shared physical world. I am intrigued by natural events like aging, death and decay that bring about weathering and dilapidation in objects and natural forms – processes that subtly capture the fluid and delicate nature of life. My goal as an artist is to find inspiration around me and inspire others. I am presently in Nigeria on a yearlong Fulbright Scholar Award, and have been teaching at the University of Lagos, while producing new creative works. It is also my hope to interact and collaborate with artists and curators in the Lagos community.