I was born in Nigeria – Jos, Plateau State, to missionary parents. I attended Hillcrest School, first grade through twelfth, with the same 32 classmates in which 15 different nationalities were represented, and a handful of different religions. I graduated with a BFA from Calvin College, having also studied in Lacoste, France on scholarship through the Cleveland Institute of Art. I lived in Michigan for 13 years before the cold weather sent my search elsewhere to what I was used to growing up in Africa. I have been in Jacksonville since 2001 and had an art show scheduled with the Beaches Fine Arts Series prior to moving there. I served on Beaches Series Board for 12 years, as it’s Visual Arts Coordinator, finding visual artists to display at the receptions.
I am a founding member of Jacksonville Cultural Development Corporation (f/k/a Jacksonville Consortium of African American Artists) 2004; and also a founding member and past President of The Art Center Cooperative Inc. (TAC) 2005. Since the inception of these two organizations, it has been full immersion into running these organizations and working in the community, keeping the arts alive through mural work and art workshops. I am also the current president of the Jacksonville Artists Guild.
My art mainly depicts people – the vast and unique personalities and relationships; and also tells stories of my childhood and the uniting of cultures/races. Often incorporated into my reliefs are drawing motifs from the tradition of wood carvings, textile patterns, uli motifs and symbols from various West African tribal folk tales/myths. The lizard is often seen tattooed down the middle of the forehead among the Avadi people who live in Niger State. It represents good luck in the forms of a protective spirit, fertility symbol, household tranquility, bounty, and wisdom (Ibo, Dogon, Barnum, Babanki, Avadi and Egyptian cultures). You will see a lizard in most of my woodcuts.
Relief printing and wood engraving has been around for centuries in both Europe and the Far East. In Europe, Woodcut is the oldest technique used for old master prints, developing about 1400, by using, on paper, existing techniques for printing on cloth. Albretch Durer brought woodcuts to the foreground. In the 1860s Japanese prints influenced some of my favorite artists Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin. In the 20th century, Ernst Ludwig Kircher of the Die Brücke group developed a process of producing colored woodcut prints using a single block applying different colors to the block with a brush à la poupée and then printing (halfway between a woodcut and a monotype). I tend to use this technique quite a bit.
My work is on display at the Art Center gallery currently located in the Regency Square mall. I have exhibited at the Haskell Gallery at the Jacksonville International Airport, the Appleton Museum, the Beaches Museum, the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum, Wilson Center for the Arts Gallery at FSCJ South Campus, Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Reddi Arts Gallery 1037, FSCJ North Campus gallery, FSCJ Kent Campus gallery, Thomas Center Gallery in Gainesville, the Vandroff Art Gallery at the Jewish Community Alliance, Beaches Fine Art Series, Riverside Fine Arts Series, the Grune Family Gallery at Players by the Sea, the Unitarian Universalist Church gallery, the Women’s Center of Jacksonville, Latitude Café, Midtown Deli, Stein Mart Building, Riverside Arts Festival, World of Nations Celebration, Kingsley Plantation, , and Juneteenth Festival at Lincoln Park in Gainesville.