spring 2023

Photo: Emezie Asogwa

Onome Olotu is the Arts Council’s Spring 2023 Artist-in-Residence. 

Onome Daniella Olotu was born in 1993 in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied art (Painting Major) at the University of Benin. After graduation, she worked as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery of Art, Abuja, and later as an art teacher before taking on full time studio practice at the Universal Studios of Art, Lagos in 2018. Working predominantly in charcoal and acrylics, her work engages personal family and institutional archives to respond to social and political events. Olotu’s work has been exhibited across Nigeria and recently at the exhibition Sankofa: African Routes, Canadian Roots at the Museum of Anthropology, The University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada. She currently lives and works between Lagos and Princeton. 

Having lived in Princeton for two years now, I have wondered why there are very few Black families in the area. I was surprised to learn that there used to be more Black families in Princeton than we have now, and I wonder what it would be like to live here at that time. Continuing with the postcard series, I will experiment with archival and historical images of Princeton and reimagine myself in this Black community of yesteryear. This is the experience I invite the Princeton community to share with me through co-creation.

The opportunity to co-create with a community like Princeton during studio visits and presentations in this program could not have come at a better time in my art career. Through interviews with the remaining Black community and archival images of Princeton, I hope to project a memory of acceptance at a time when it seemed impossible with a fast-disappearing Black community.

By joining me in this engagement with memory in the form of postcards from the past, I hope they will benefit with me on this healing journey. I also intend to push the limits of my current media of acrylics on canvas to include printmaking using the printmaking facility available in the Art Council studios to see what a combination of printmaking and acrylic painting, texts and images, and personal and institutional archives will produce in a new body of work. From my experience as an art teacher, public engagement, and curatorial volunteering, I believe the outcome of my proposed project will be of mutual benefit to the Princeton Community and my artistic practice.

This project would not be possible without the support of Timothy M. Andrews, longtime supporter of the Arts Council of Princeton, who has generously underwritten the Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence program.