Nike Davies Okundaye
An original product of the famous Oshogbo Art Movement, Nike Davies Okundaye is one of the internationally known and renowned female artists and textile designers from Africa. The veteran textile designer brings a vivid imagination as well as a wealth of history and tradition regulating the production of adire which is the traditional Yoruba hand painted cloth. Nike continues to trumpet her designs worldwide through exhibitions and workshops in USA, Belgium, Germany, Japan and Italy to mention a few.
Nike Davies Okundaye born in 1954 in Nigeria, is one of the internationally known and renowned female designers and artists. She was brought up amidst the traditional weaving and dying practice in her native village of Ogidi in Western Nigeria. Her artistic skills were nurtured by her parents and great grandmother, who were musicians and craftspeople specialising in the area of cloth weaving, adire making, indigo dying and leather.
Nike spent the early part of her life in Oshogbo which is recognised as one of the major centres for art and culture in Nigeria. During her stay in Oshogbo, her informal training was dominated by Indigo and Adire. She is today a proud product of the famous Oshogbo Art School.
The dynamism of Nike’s compositions, the complexity and firm structure, emerge in her textile designs particularly for the adire and batiks. Nike brings to her adire a vivid imagination as well as a wealth of history and tradition regulating the production of adire. Adire is the traditional Yoruba hand painted cloth. Traditional adire designs are myriad, full of meaning and history, which are combined into larger overall patterns with names that are universally recognised in the Yoruba culture. She seeks to re-establish the value of adire as art, and to increase the appreciation of this meticulously designed, hand produced textile. For many years this veteran adire artist has created both adire and batik works that glorify the social practices and the cosmic drama of Yoruba tradition. The prevailing indigo colour of her textiles accentuates the aura, mystery and beauty of her designs.
Nike has used her international success to launch a cultural revival in Nigeria. She is the founder and director of 3 art centres which offer free training to over 150 young artists in visual, musical and performing arts. The centre also serves as a rich source of knowledge for traditional arts and culture to scholars and interested bodies.
From her first solo exhibition at the Goethe Institute, Lagos in 1968, Nike has grown to become one of the major imprints on the international art circuits. She ‘represents the new breed of African woman artist, many of whose realities are now international, though in essence they are perpetuating the living tradition of female artists and ‘cloth-queens’, controlling heady empires of fabric- wealthy powerful women’. Nike is known all over the world trumpeting her designs through exhibitions and workshops in Nigeria, USA, Belgium, Germany, Japan and Italy to mention a few. She lives and works in Lagos.
Full name: CHIEF (MRS) OYENIKE MONICA OKUNDAYE
Date of Birth: May 23rd 1951.
Place of Birth: Ogidi-Ijumu, Kogi State, Nigeria.
Marital Status: Married with children
Titles Held: Traditional chieftaincy titles of Yeye Oba of Ogidi-Ijumu land and the Yeye Tasase of Osogbo land.
Occupation: Professional Textile Designer and Painter.
Membership of professional bodies: Society of Nigerian Artists, ASA of USA and Canada, ACASA, Society of Nigerian Women Artists, Osun Support Grove
Public Interests: Philanthropy
Business Interest: Managing Director/CEO of Nike Center for Art and Culture, Osogbo where training programmes are offered free of charge to young Nigerians in various forms of art. The center was founded in 1983, by Nike solely from her earnings as an artist and without any government assistance. So far, over 2000 young Nigerians have been trained in the center by her and are now earning a living through art. Nike is also the Proprietress/Curator
of the Nike Art Galleries in Lagos and Abuja. In 1996, Nike established a textile (Aso-Oke) weaving center at Ogidi-Ijumu near Kabba in Kogi State for the women of the village thereby employing and empowering more than 100 women in this cottage industry. In June 2002, Nike established “Nike Research Centre for Art and Culture” at Piwoyi village FCT Abuja which also includes a textile museum, the first of its kind in Nigeria. The museum provides an enabling environment for research into the Nigerian traditional textile industry.
Awards and Merits:
In May 2006, Nike was awarded one of the highest Italian national wards of merit by the government of the Republic of Italy in appreciation of her efforts in using art to address and solve the problems of Nigerian prostitutes (sex workers) in Italy. See more on this in paragraph 20 below.
In 2005, the National Commission for Museum and Monument of Nigeria awarded Nike a certificate of excellence in recognition of her efforts in the development of Nigerian cultural heritage.
In 2005, the Department of Fine Art, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife awarded Nike a certificate of merit in recognition of her efforts in the promotion of art education in Nigeria.
In 2004, Nike was awarded an honorary certificate of merit by the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Osun State Chapter in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of Nigerian cultural heritage.
In 2003, a certificate of merit was awarded to Nike by the Okun Yoruba people of Kogi State of Nigeria in recognition of her efforts in youth development in Nigeria.
In 2002, Nike was bestowed with an award of distinction by the National Association of Kogi State Students in recognition of her efforts in promoting Art awareness among the youths in Nigeria.
In 2002, Nike was awarded and admitted as a fellow of the institute of The Pan �V African Circle of Artists of Nigeria in recognition of her commitment to the promotion of art education in Nigeria.
Artistic Education & Global Actions:
Educated by her great grand mother who was a weaver and adire textile artist, Nike received this vocational training in the traditional custom of passing skills from one generation to the next in the Yoruba community. In addition, Nike’s father was a traditional royal drummer and baskets weaver.
Nike has had numerous internationa shows including over 100 solo exhibitions and 31 group exhibitions. Nike’s art works can be found in many private home collections and public
institutions including schools, colleges, universities, palaces and museums all over the world. Some of the major international shows she has participated in are;
1. In 1974, Nike was one of the ten African artists who toured and taught arts in various crafts institutions in the USA. These tours were sponsored by USIS, Lagos. These trips took Nike to the fifty (50) states of America including the ice region of Alaska and the Virgin Islands of America conducting workshops and delivering lectures in schools and community centers.
2. In 1981, Nike’s work won the first price during the SOUTH WEST ARTS FESTIVAL in Washington DC. USA. And she was awarded many prices of honor at the end of the festival.
3. In 1983, The Nigeria Arts Council, Lagos sponsored Nike to represent Nigeria at a workshop held at the Museum of Natural History, New York, USA. During which period, her works attracted many arts collectors.
4. In 1985, Nike was one of the six women artists who exhibited at the African Heritage Kenya during the World Women Conference held in Nairobi. The UN sponsored her trip to that conference.
5. In 1986, Nike was the only Nigeria woman who represented Nigeria in an exhibition featuring African women artists held at the African Centre, London. That exhibition was sponsored by AKINA MAMA WA AFRICA, London. In
6. 1989, Nike and Sokari Douglas Camp were the only Nigerian women artists who represented Nigeria in an exhibition held at the women museum in Washington DC. USA.
7. In 1991, USIA sponsored Nike’s educational visits to many institutions of higher learning and museums in USA. This trip again took Nike to; Washington DC to deliver lectures and conduct workshops at the Howard University, the University of Maryland and the Rode Island School of Textile.
8. In 1991, Nike and Sokari Douglas Camp co-featured as the only Nigerian women artists in a film “KINDRED SPIRITS” produced by Smith Sonia on Nigerian artists which was a television documentary in USA. and Canada.
9. In 1991, during a conference of Black Artists held in Toronto Canada to celebrate African identity, Nike was sponsored by the CUSO of Canada to that conference as the only Nigerian artist who exhibited her art works and held workshops at that conference.
10. In 1992, Nike was the only African who represented the continents of Africa in an exhibition organized by BMW Company, Munich Germany during their anniversary celebration. Nike was accompanied by her cultural troupe to the show.
11. In 1994, during the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the UN, Nike was one of the 50 world artists selected to exhibit their works in a film; a documentary in-put for the anniversary that was exhibited in South African.
12. In November 1994, Nike exhibited her art works at the Royal York Hotel, Toronto Canada during the 37th annual conference of the African Studies Association of USA and Canada.
13. In 1995, Nike was one of the ten (10) African artists who had exhibition at the African Heritage in Nairobi, Kenya.
14. In 1996, Nike held an exhibition at the University of Tampa Florida, USA. The exhibition was followed by series of lectures and workshops she conducted at the department of fine art of the University.
15. In 1997, Nike held an exhibition at the prestigious Schobgarten Galleria, Schobgarten, Germany.
16. In 1998, Nike held an exhibition at the University of Wisconsin, USA. This exhibition was followed by series of lectures she delivered at the department of African studies at the University.
17. Also in 1998, Nike went with her cultural troupe to Antwerp, Belgium to perform at the Wereld Cultural Center in Antwerp.
18. In 1999, Nike held an exhibition at Northern Michigan University, USA. The exhibition was followed by series of lectures and workshops she conducted at the department of humanity of the University.
19. In 2000, Nike was invited by the Federal Government of Nigeria to supply all the textile materials, which she designed for the Nigerian pavilion at the Expo 2000 in Hanover, German. Her art works were also on display during that Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany.
20. In June 2000, Nike was invited to Italy by the CISV of Italy and Caritas of Italy to organize art exhibitions and art workshops in Turin to address the problem of female prostitution in that country. She mounted these art exhibitions and art workshops, which was largely attended.
21. In October 2000, Nike was invited with her cultural troupe by the Nigerian Ambassador to Netherlands to perform at the Hurge in celebration of the Nigerian 40th independence anniversary.
22. In 2001, Nike went with her cultural group to Antwerp, Belgium to perform at the Wereld Cultural Center in Antwerp.
23. In 2001, Nike held an exhibition at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. USA.
24. In 2002, Nike was again invited to Hollywood for an art exhibition during Pan African Film and Art Festival (PAFF).
25. In 2002, Nike was in Denison University, Granville Ohio. USA for an art workshop and lecture.
26. In 2002, Nike was in Bowling Green State University, Toledo Ohio, USA to hold art workshops and lectures.
27. In June 2002 Nike was invited as a special guest artist in resident during the commonwealth festival of art in Manchester, UK.
28. In July 2002, Nike had exhibitions of her works in Ausgburg, Germany during the La Piassa art festival.
29. In August 2002, Nike was in Calgary, Canada for exhibitions during the African day festival.
30. In November 2002, Nike was at the Dartmouth University, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA as artist in resident, holding exhibitions, art workshops and lectures at the department of humanity of the University.
31. In December 2002, Nike attends the annual meeting of the African Studies Association of USA and Canada which holds in Washington DC. As a long time member of this association, her art works were also on view during the conference.
32. In February 2003, Nike was a special guest artist in resident at the Pan African Film and Art Festival in Los Angeles USA where she awarded certificate of honor by the County of Los Angeles, California, USA.
33. In September 2003, Nike was invited by Belgium government with her cultural troupe to perform amongst other cultural troupes from other 40 African countries at Antwerp cultural centre.
34. In February 2004, Nike was artist in resident at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
35. In July 2004, Nike artist in resident at the International Folk Art Festival at Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. The festival was sponsored by the Museum of New Mexico Art Foundation.
36. In October 2004, Nike was appointed a member of the UNESCO Committee of the Nigerian Intangible Cultural Heritage Project.
37. In May 2005, Nike was a guest artist in resident at the African Art Festival in Wurzburg, Germany.
38. In June 2005, Nike was in Graz, Austria with her cultural troupe to perform and show case Nigerian art at Maria Moser Centre.
39. In May 2006, Nike was appointed a board member of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria Tourism Board at Abuja, Nigeria.
Autobiography of Nike authored by MS. Kim Marie Vaz, “THE WOMAN WITH THE ARTISTIC BRUSH” widely recommended for university students studying African arts and culture in the USA.
Many academic papers and research papers have been published on Nike’s works by various world scholars. These include:
(1) “CELEBRATING ADIRE AND THE BATIK ART OF NIKE OKUNDAYE” Ijele: Art Journal ISSN 1525 447X. ;
(2) “CONTEMPORARY TEXTURES multidimensionality in Nigerian art” edited by Nkiru Nzegwu (pp187-230);
(3) “THE NEW AFRICA dispatches from a changing continent” (pp331-339) by Robert & Betty Press and published in 1999 by the University Press of Florida, USA. ISBN 0-8130-1704-1;
(4) “A HISTORY OF ART IN AFRICA” (pp166-167, 269-272) by M. B. Visona, R. Poynor, H. M. Cole and published in 2000 by Colemann & King Limited of London, ISBN 0-I-8I09-3448-5;
(5) “BEYOND INDIGO” produced by Nike & Reuben Okundaye and edited by Ritka Carr. Published in 2001 by Simon Printers, Lagos, ISBN 978-052-405-3
(6) “IMAGES AND FORM…southern Africa and Nigeria” (pp17) by John Picton and published in 1997 by the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Russell Square,
London. ISBN 0 7286 0286 7.
More information on Nike’s art and role in the African culture can be obtained from Nike’s web site: www.nikeart.com.