Born in Australia and raised in Nigeria, Nnenna Okore has received international acclaim for her richly textured abstract sculptures and installations. Known for their environmental ties, her breathtaking works explore the fragility and ephemerality of terrestrial existence. Her highly tactile sculptures respond to the rhythms and contours of everyday life, combining reductive methods of shredding, fraying, twisting, teasing and washing with constructive processes of tying, weaving, stitching and dyeing.
CNL Projects: What is one thing you feel you have learned or experienced as an artist that you feel you can share with your peers and emerging artists in the field?
Nnenna Okore: Failure is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. When we fail, we learn from the experience how to improve and build upon what we already know. As artists, we should always give ourselves permission to fail and retry. Like the saying goes, it's not about how many times you fall, but how you pick up yourself each time you fall. Perseverance and consistency are the keys here.
CNL: What’s something that you’re seeking from others in the field to support your practice?
NO: I don't think this will apply to me now, but when I was a much younger artist, I yearned for support through mentorship, studio visits, dialogue and feedback. It was helpful to learn from older artists the pros and cons of navigating the art scene and profession life. These days, there are many online platforms, resources and artist communities that offer such. For me now, I would benefit for connecting with artists who want to make a difference through art in local communities.
CNL: What’s a piece of advice you would share with other artists or cultural producers in your field?
NO: It's important to seek out and support new creative voices and talents. I have observed that many art or cultural circles tend to be insular or exclusive to a few. It sometimes makes for redundancy and a lack of new flavors. I would love to see more openness and diversity within art spaces.