My work explores themes of Black existence, freedom, joy and autonomy. It focuses on this idea of a Normatopia - a term I’ve coined to encompass the values of my visual universe, Eternity. A Normatopia is normal, not perfect - and so the question becomes, what is normal to me? I believe that normal is simply the right to be. It is where we land when we think beyond the binaries of a hard reality and a utopia. Reality can be hard and painful, and a utopia is expected to be easy and perfect, but a Normatopia is simply normal. It is still idealized, and still sought after as an attractive progression from our current state, but there is a lot more room for human error and so it is more realistically achievable.
I’m interested in exploring the necessary interactions between the motherland and the diaspora, and creating images with a scholarly approach. My process usually begins with some inspiration - a phrase that’s lingered in my mind for a while, the title of my current favorite song, a colour that I’m interested in. From that inspiration, the next step is research and referencing, and then organizing these thoughts coherently. I like to write a brief description of projects before I carry them out, as a guide, but sometimes this comes after. It’s a little weird - I don’t really think I have a defined way that I work. Sometimes I put everything together before creating the images, and other times I allow myself to go out and create viscerally and then put everything together backwards. It all depends on how I’m feeling at any given moment.
I am self-taught.
I’m inspired by everyday life happenings, community and archives. I allow myself to be inspired by life as I live it, and I draw a lot of inspiration from other artists and their archives. Also, textual references. Given my scientific background, I approach image making with some framework in mind. I like to pull references from scholarly articles or books.
Toyin Ojih Odutola, Solange, Wong Kar-Wai, James Barnor, Barkley Hendricks
I haven’t always been creative - I recently completed my Bsc in Neuroscience and Psychology and that was the path my life was taking until recently. I was always intrigued by photography, since I was 12, but it wasn’t until I moved to Canada in 2016 that I was able to delve into my creative side and see what it’s all about. Earlier on, I was mostly photographing my friends and nature. We would go out to Jackson Square in Hamilton on the weekends and just create images for Instagram or whatever. Eventually, I knew I wanted to do more. I felt I had a lot to say and I realized that I could tell stories with my camera. So slowly but surely, I began to work on more intentional projects. I would work with a friend who was a stylist, or I would show my sitters some references and ask them to do something similar. I wanted to create the things I saw in my head, the things I dreamt about.
I think it has gotten more intentional. I’m trying a lot these days to embrace my scientific background and apply all the things I learnt about human behaviour and emotion to my work. I’m interested in creating images that stand the test of time and can be critically engaged with.
Yes, I currently have work in two shows in Toronto - Gallery TPW & Gallery 44.
Believe in yourself and stay working with intention.