Toyin Ojih Odutola, ‘Birmingham (right)’, 2014, Tamarind Institute

About Toyin Ojih Odutola

Through black ballpoint pen ink, Toyin Odutola’s drawings question physical and sociopolitical identities as they pertain to skin color. Treating skin as topography, she layers ink as a means of mapping a person’s subjective, individual geography built from real-life experiences. Her interest in surface qualities stems from the history of African textiles, which inspires the artist’s rich textures on flat planes. Concerned with historical representations of black subjects in portraiture, Odutola undermines notions of blackness in her drawings by exploring what it means to look or be perceived as black, as, while drawn in black ink, not all of her subjects are of African descent. More recently, Odutola has begun to look beyond pen ink, working with charcoal and pastels to reflect the cultural diversity and ambition of American cities.

Nigerian, b. 1985, Ife, Nigeria, based in New York, New York