Dance Art

Nigerian artist Morenike Olusanya creates inspiring photographs of Black girls

Written by Aisha Salaudeen, CNNLagos, Nigeria

Morenike “Renike” Olusanya spends lots of her time together with her iPad and contact pen, sketching the individuals and issues she finds attention-grabbing.

The Nigerian-born visible artist significantly loves to color Black girls. “I am in Nigeria; Black girls are all I see. I really like to color our tradition, our vogue and our hairstyles,” she mentioned.

Rising up in Lagos, Nigeria’s business heart, Olusanya has at all times been inventive. “Drawing was a traditional factor for me to do as a baby,” she defined. “My dad was an artist for a brief interval, so I noticed him draw. I noticed my older brother draw too.”

Olusanya, 28, studied artistic arts on the College of Lagos and labored as a graphic designer earlier than ultimately taking on visible arts as a full-time job through the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

Nigerian artist Morenike "Renike" Olusanya.

Nigerian artist Morenike “Renike” Olusanya. Credit score: Morenike Olusanya

Finest-selling e book covers

Olusanya’s artwork exists in lots of varieties, comparable to portraits, dance artwork and e book covers. A few of them are created on a canvas, however she prefers as an instance digitally.

By combining shapes, traces and shadows on her iPad, she has designed e book covers for notable girls together with Aminata Touré, Germany’s first Black feminine minister, award-winning American writer Coe Sales space, and Jamaican-American writer Nicola Yoon.

In 2020, she illustrated the quilt for Yoon’s e book “Directions for Dancing,” sketching a Black man and a lady dancing tango.

“The e book is a couple of girl, Evie, taking on dancing. She meets a person she connects with by way of dance,” the artist defined, including that the quilt took her two months to complete.

In response to Olusanya, illustrating the quilt was a “dream come true,” particularly because it grew to become an on the spot New York Instances best-seller after its launch in June 2021. “I can proudly say I’ve created e book covers for a number of best-sellers,” she added.

Olusanya's cover for "Instructions for Dancing" by best-selling author Nicola Yoon.

Olusanya’s cowl for “Directions for Dancing” by best-selling writer Nicola Yoon. Credit score: Morenike Olusanya

The facility of storytelling

Lots of Olusanya’s portraits share a message about what it is wish to be a Black girl in at the moment’s world.

“If I see a phrase, factor or individual that I really feel tells a narrative and could be executed into an paintings or image, I’m going for it,” she defined.

One in every of her items, “Aminata,” is a picture of a Black girl with brief pink hair, carrying a sleeveless white costume that exposes her again. “The hair coloration was impressed by my good friend, Chigozie,” Olusanya mentioned. “On the time, I discovered myself being insecure about all of the fats on my again. So I painted that, as you’d discover within the portrait. It was my method of accepting myself. It was additionally a method of displaying that it’s pure for Black girls like me to have fats on their our bodies.”

Olusanya's "Aminta."

Olusanya’s “Aminta.” Credit score: Morenike Olusanya

Her dance portraits are much more private. “It is like a journal for me; I draw them based mostly on what I am experiencing,” she defined.

For instance, “She is not going to be Silent” was created through the pandemic when there was an increase in circumstances of violence towards girls. “The artwork was impressed by how girls on social media lent their voices to help different girls who had confronted focused harassment,” she defined.

“It was very heavy for me, however I needed to create one thing highly effective, one thing that reveals that when a lady is being handled unfairly, there’ll at all times be different girls making an attempt to assist out,” she mentioned.

Olusanya's "She will not be Silent."

Olusanya’s “She is not going to be Silent.” Credit score: Morenike Olusanya

‘Individuals can relate to what I am doing’

In 2021, Olusanya was included in Main Girls Africa’s listing of 100 Most Inspiring Girls in Nigeria and in 2022, she received the Lord’s Achievers Particular Recognition Award: A Girl Making Influence Via Artwork.

“Successful the award was very encouraging for me. It strengthened that artwork is my factor, and folks can relate to what I am doing,” she mentioned.

Whereas Olusanya is completely happy to be acknowledged for her work, she mentioned the spotlight of her profession is getting commissioned to create portraits for a few of the largest manufacturers on the earth, together with Hulu, Darkish & Pretty, Penguin Random Home, and Scholastic.

For the following couple of years, she simply desires to maintain creating and experimenting with artwork. “I wish to proceed collaborating with larger manufacturers, internet hosting exhibitions in Lagos and different international locations,” she mentioned.

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