"Bodies on Display" opens July 15th, 2016 at 7:00PM, 3156 Cherokee. Artist Lola Ogbara tells us about her interest in bodies, in St. Louis, and in the temptations of summer.
Question 1: Can you tell us a little bit about the pieces you're planning to show at Westminster Press?
I will be showing a few pieces from two different series—Body Positivism and Goddessism. Both series complement each other well. They exhibit the power of vulnerability in women of color (hence the extremely colorful images). It’s femininity, its self-love, and it’s apathetic to your feelings. It answers to those who are offended or disgruntled simply by their presence.
In addition to this display, I will also have smaller pieces on view. The Queen collection will be available as greeting cards to purchase.
Question 2: How does the theme of "Bodies" enter your work?
My work, particularly in illustration and photography, is very figurative. I have a special relationship with human figures and bodies when it comes to my art. I believe one of my first drawings was of a person. I drew people all the time as a kid and wrote short narratives to accompany the drawing about how I thought the subjects lived their lives. I also like to people watch. Now as an adult, I pay close attention to people’s features. I still wonder or fictionalize stories that I think could match any given person. I guess you could say I’m intrigued by people and find myself often curious of their lives, belief systems, and/or thoughts. I would consider myself a professional gaper. My curiosity often finds itself in my drawings and illustrations so it’s no doubt the two subjects align.
Question 3: What artists currently inspire your personal practice?
I am really moved by a few artists of color that are currently sharing the spotlight. I recently got a chance to view Wangechi Mutu and Lorna Simpson at MoMA. I’ve seen Kerry James Marshall at the MCA which completely blew my mind. I am also a fan of Mickalene Thomas, though I haven’t got the opportunity to view her work in person. Her depictions of African American women explore a spectrum of Black female beauty and sexual identity. It screams femininity and power and that is what speaks to me the most. All of these artists don’t necessarily exhibit digital works but we all have one thing in common, Black female bodies. That, plus a genuine respect for their artistry is why I’m greatly inspired.
Question 4: How do you feel about working in St. Louis?
I feel St. Louis is a great grass roots starting place for artists. I think one can become easily inspired living in St. Louis whether they’re inspired by the good that happens in the city or the not so great things. There is so much to explore here and it’s affordable while doing so. It’s a close knit art community, though it’s hard to break into. Once you do, opportunities are at your disposable, you just have to be ready to accept them.
Question 5: What are you most excited about this summer?
This summer I am most excited for outdoor activities, rather related to my practice or not. You get to connect with more people, socialize more, go on vacations, and more opportunities tend to arise. The summer does bring on other temptations so I do have to remember to work and stay focus on projects.