Nina Fabunmi’s breathtaking artwork explores themes of the African diaspora through personal narratives and cultural references.
Her solo exhibition ‘Rebirth’, is currently showing at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, and features a collection of pieces that are inspired by her interactions with locals in her new home of San Francisco.
We spoke to Nina about her latest ‘Rebirth’ collection, her inspirations and pursuing art as a career.
What inspires your work?
My culture, life’s experiences, emotions and my environment.
You have had careers in Real Estate, Broadcasting and Telecommunications. At which point did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in art?
I guess I have always had two professions because alongside these other industries that I have worked in, the only constant was making art. I never stopped. I have been making art since I was 6. I took it on professionally in 2008 when I was discovered by a gallery owner and I pursued my Masters in Fine art in 2011 after I had enough conviction and financial resources to go back to school.
Explain your artistic aesthetic?
Bold, colorful , expressive and with the infusion of tribal marks as a representation of my African culture.
You are currently showing new work at your solo exhibition ‘Rebirth’? Can you describe the process and inspiration behind this collection?
I feel like I am living again, I have been reborn. A chance to pursue the profession I love in an art inspired city and I am an African in the Diaspora trying to find a place and have my voice heard. ‘Rebirth’ captures the bay area and the diversity of its people. This is my new home and I add to its diversity.
You grew up in Nigeria and are now living in the US, (San Francisco to be specific). Would you say that both of these locations have had any effect on your style of work?
Definitely. I love that I can use my art to teach culture, it is unique and it tells of who I am and what I represent. I am blending it into my new environment and the people that I am now amongst. So, my art is a mix of both worlds, Africa and America.
Would you say that you have faced any challenges with being a female contemporary artist?
I would say that in Nigeria, the art world is male dominated, so it’s really difficult for female artists to find significance. Here, both male ad female sort of find a way and are more recognized without gender discrimination. I am challenged by the uniqueness of my work as I try to make it universal and yet tied to my roots. I think I have finally found this balance in the versatility of my subjects, because the cohesiveness in my body of work can be found in my style of painting. I have my own artistic voice which shines through in my aesthetics .
Tell us how others describe your work versus how you see it? Do people understand it or do you constantly have to explain it?
Trust me, it’s so amazing the way people interpret my work. Some people get the general meaning and others find new meanings that make so much sense that i even incorporate it into the significance of the art. Some others really baffle me and cause me to give my work a second look. One example, I made some marine paintings which I displayed at the Pan African Film Festival alongside some nude figures, and a gentleman told me that that was the coast, and that the ship in the water was the slave ship and the nude future lying on the floor which was a completely different piece was an enslaved man. Honestly, this was never my intention but he saw it differently. I thought his interpretation was bizarre.
Are there any artists that inspire you?
Jeremy Mann, Patrice Murciano and Russ Mills
What are your other interests besides art?
Photography, Modelling, fashion, knitting and crocheting, sports (swimming and basketball) hiking and outdoors.
Any advice for new artists interested in pursuing art as a career?
Follow your heart, pursue it with passion, and never give up. Learn from failure, dust yourself up again and keep going.
To learn more about the art of Nina Fabunmi, visit the following links: