Onome Olotu Named ACP Artist-In-Residence
The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) has announced painter Onome Olotu as its Spring 2023 Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence (AIR).
Olotu was born in 1993 in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied art as a painting major at the University of Benin. After graduation, she worked as a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery of Art, Abuja, and later as an art teacher before taking on full time studio practice at the Universal Studios of Art, Lagos in 2018. Working predominantly in charcoal and acrylics, her work engages personal family and institutional archives to respond to social and political events. Olotu’s work has been exhibited across Nigeria and recently at the exhibition “Sankofa: African Routes, Canadian Roots” at the Museum of Anthropology, The University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada. She currently lives and works between Lagos and Princeton.
Olotu’s plans for her residency involve the immediate community. Having lived in Princeton for two years, Onome noticed few Black families in the area and was surprised to learn that the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood is a historically Black community. This put the wheels in motion for Olotu who wondered, “What would it have been like to live here at that time?”
During her residency, Olotu will meet with community leaders, longtime residents, and historians to collect archival images of Princeton and insert herself in historic Princeton including former Witherspoon-Jackson landmarks. The entire Princeton community will be invited to “co-create” with Olotu in free art-making workshops that provide her pre-prepared images on paper that participants can embellish with personal memories. These individual pieces will be collected and displayed together to form one large “community postcard” to be displayed in the Arts Council’s Paul Robeson Center for the Arts.
“The opportunity to co-create with a community like Princeton could not have come at a better time,” she said. “Through conversations with the remaining Black community and these historical images of Princeton, I hope to project a memory of acceptance at a time when it seemed impossible with a fast-disappearing Black community.”
The Arts Council’s newly opened Print Studio will also serve as inspiration during Onome’s time as resident. She said, “I intend to push the limits of my current media of acrylic paint on canvas to include printmaking, taking advantage of the printmaking facility available in the Art Council studios. I will explore what a combination of printmaking and acrylic painting, texts and images, and personal and institutional archives will produce in a new body of work.”
Maria Evans, ACP artistic director, said, “The Arts Council is thrilled to be working with Onome. She brings such talent and joy to her projects, and I am sure the community will love creating a ‘giant’ postcard with her. We are fortunate to have Onome here before she travels back to Nigeria with her husband. Please stop by, say hello, and be sure to sign up for the workshop(s) as they are posted.”
This project would not be possible without the support of Timothy M. Andrews, longtime supporter of the Arts Council of Princeton, who has generously underwritten the Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence program.
The Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence program, named after the ACP founding director, was established by the Arts Council in 2009 to offer artists the opportunity to conceptualize and create work while providing the community with creative interaction with working artists in all disciplines. Learn more at artscouncilofprinceton.org.