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Nike Davies-Okundaye – BIOGRAPHY|Adire

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Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye is an internationally renowned batik artist – who without a degree was able to revive the almost dying culture of Adire. Born and raised in Ogidi – Ijumu, 1951, a small village in Western Nigeria. Ijumu is popularly known for its striking rock formation and traditional art industry.

Nike Davies Okundaye owes her talent to her parents and great grandmother who were also artisans. She grew up learning artistic skills in traditional weaving and dying practice – Adire making, indigo dying and leather.

Aside her remarkable artisan skills, it was Nike’s steadfast commitment to preserve and innovate her culture that enabled her attain a new height of her career. While it’s not every day you here a success story despite surrounding impoverishment and factors – Nike Davies, a daughter of a poor traditional artisan like many others belonging to same status quo did not receive any formal education in art or in any learning institution. In fact, she was left with no other option that to leave school in class six to earn traditional crafts passed on from generations by the women in her family.

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Today, Davies-Okundaye educates a long list generation of artisans free of charge through art centers across the country, Nigeria.

She tells Forbes Africa “I lost my mother when I was six and I lost my grandmother when I was seven. The knowledge was passed on to me by my great-grandmother who was the head of all the weavers in our village.”

The death of both mother and grandmother led her to spending more time with her great-grandmother – a renowned adire specialist (the traditional art of fabric dyeing of southwest Nigeria (Yoruba mainly)). She also began the fifth generation of fabric on traditional looms.

Starting at early age of seven (7) learning the vocation, Davies quickly developed her own style and technique (weaving and painting) from the family’s many artisanal specializations. She was however forced to stop after her family wanted to marry her out at the age of 14.

She tells Forbes: “They married me to a minister who already had four (4) wives! This is why I ran way from home and joined a travelling theater.”

A turning point in her life. Here escapade took her to Osogbo, Nigeria where she developed and became skilled in adire. She went on to sell her work in 1968 – starting her art career.

After a successful exhibition in Kenya, 1972 and an international tour in 1974, Nike brought back with her a grater passion for arts – one that has led to philanthropy via her eponymous art centers.

These art centers were launched in 1983 – where she worked with women on the streets of Oshogbo. With her skills in Adire, painting, weaving and other traditional arts. She went on to open other centers across other Nigerian cities: Lagos, Abuja and Ogidi (her hometown).

Nike’s International success has enabled her to launch a cultural revival in Nigeria – offering free training to more than 150 artists in visual, musical and performing arts.

Nike’s largest art gallery (also largest in West Africa) comprises over 7,000 artworks. Her works have been exhibited in Nigeria and round the globe: USA, Nigeria, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Italy and United Kingdom.

HARMLESS DREAM, 2006
ACCESS OF HOPE, 2001
LOVE DANCE, 2003
DANCERS WITH JOY, 2002
EVENING OUTING, 1999
COLOURFUL PATTERNS, 2004

SOME AWARDS

2002Nike was awarded and admitted as a fellow of the institute of The Pan – African Circle of Artists of Nigeria in recognition of her commitment to the promotion of art education in Nigeria.
2002Nike 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.
2003A 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.
2004Nike 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.
2005Department 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.
2005National 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.
May 2006Nike was awarded one of the highest Italian national awards 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.
2009The “CEPAN Foundation” of Nigeria awarded Nike a plaque of honor for being the African Art Icon of the year.
2010National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) of Nigeria presented Nike with a golden plaque of honor in recognition of her noble role in the fight towards drugs free Nigeria society.
2010Osun State Council for Art & Culture presented Nike with a golden plaque of excellence for being one of the leading “Patron of Art & Culture” in the State.
2011The “Northern States Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture” presented Nike with a crystal plaque of honor for her leadership and entrepreneurship roles in Nigerian commerce and industry.
2011The Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN) in collaboration with the Nigerian National Gallery of Art (NGA) presented Nike with a plaque and a certificate of honor for art dealer of the year.
2011The SISI-OGE Foundation of Nigeria awarded Nike a crystal plaque for her outstanding dedication in the promotion of Nigerian cultural heritage.
2012The Business and Professional Women of Nigeria Association honored Nike for her Outstanding and Leadership quality in area of her entrepreneurial spirit and her role as a change agent in promoting art and culture globally and for the empowerment of rural community women and young people.
November 2012Nike was presented a plaque of honor ward by the Female Artists Association of Nigeria (FAAN) for her support and contribution to the growth and development of Female Artists in Nigeria.
December 2012Nike was presented a plaque of honour ward by the National Council for Art & Culture (NCAC) in Abuja in recognition of her efforts in the promotion of Nigerian Creative Industry and Empowerment through Visual Art.
May 2013Nike was presented with a golden trophy by the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos in appreciation of her contributions to the development of the National Museum in Lagos.
June 2013Nike was presented with a golden plaque, titled “Life Achievement Award” by the Ogidi Development Union in Kogi State in recognition of her efforts in the development of  Ogidi village in Kogi State of Nigeria, her birth place.
March 2014Nike was invited by the First Lady of Kogi State under the auspices of “Kogi State Women Association of Nigeria” and she was awarded “Women Inspirational Award – 2014” in recognition of her efforts in motivating and economically empowering the rural women of Kogi State.
Source: nikeart.com

Artistic Education and Global Actions

1974One of the ten African artists who toured 50 America statesand taught arts in various crafts institutions in the USA sponsored by USIS, Lagos.
1981Won the first prize during the SOUTH WEST ARTS FESTIVAL in Washington DC
1983Sponsored by Nigeria Arts Council, Lagos to represent Nigeria at a workshop held at the Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.
1985One of the six women artists to exhibit at the African Heritage Kenya during the World Women Conference held in Nairobi, sponsored by the UN.
1986Nike 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
1989One of two Nigerian women – her and Sokari Douglas , who represented Nigeria in an exhibition held at the women museum in Washington DC. USA.
1991Sponsored by USIA for educational visits to many institutions of higher learning and museums in USA.
1991Nike 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.
1991Sponsored by the CUSO of Canada to a conference of Black Artists held in Toronto Canada to celebrate African identity, where she was the only Nigerian artist who exhibited her art works and held workshops at that conference.
1992only African who represented the continent of Africa in an exhibition organized by BMW Company, Munich Germany during their anniversary celebration
1994One 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 – during the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the UN.
November 1994Nike 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.
1995One of the ten (10) African artists who had exhibition at the African Heritage in Nairobi, Kenya.
1996Held an exhibition at the University Of Tampa Florida, USA. Followed by
1997Held an exhibition at the prestigious ‘Schobgarten Galleria’ in SCHOBGARTEN, Germany.
1998Nike held an exhibition at the University of Wisconsin,
1998Went with her cultural troupe to Antwerp, Belgium to perform at the Wereld Cultural Center in Antwerp.
1999Nike held an exhibition at Northern Michigan University, USA.
2000Designed for the Nigerian pavilion at the Expo 2000 in Hanover, German with her artwork also exhibited.
June 2000Invited 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.
October 2000Invited with her cultural troupe by the Nigerian Ambassador to Netherlands to perform at the Hurge in celebration of the Nigerian 40th independence anniversary.
2001Went with her cultural group to Antwerp, Belgium to perform at the Wereld Cultural Center in Antwerp
2001Nike held an exhibition at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. USA.
2002Invited to Hollywood for an art exhibition during Pan African Film and Art Festival (PAFF).
2002In Denison University, Granville Ohio. USA for an art workshop and lecture.
2002In Bowling Green State University, Toledo Ohio, USA to hold art workshops and lectures.
June 2002Invited as a special guest artist in resident during the commonwealth festival of art in Manchester, UK
July 2002Had exhibitions in Ausgburg, Germany during the La Piassa art festival.
August 2002In Calgary, Canada for exhibitions during the “Afrikadey” annual festival.
November 2002At the Dartmouth University, Hanover, New Hampshire, USA as artist in resident, holding exhibitions, art workshops and lectures.
December 2002Attended the annual meeting of the African Studies Association of USA and Canada which holds in Washington DC.
February 2003Special 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.
September 2003Invited by Belgium government with her cultural troupe to perform amongst other cultural troupes from other 40 African countries at Antwerp cultural centre.
February 2004Nike was artist in resident at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.
July 2004Artist in resident at the International Folk Art Festival at Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA.
October 2004Appointed a member of the UNESCO Committee of the Nigerian Intangible Cultural Heritage Project
May 2005Nike was a guest artist in resident at the African Art Festival in Wurzburg, Germany.
June 2005In Graz, Austria with her cultural troupe to perform and show case Nigerian art at Maria Moser Centre.
May 2006Appointed a board member of the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria Tourism Board at Abuja, Nigeria.
January 2007Selected and sponsored by the United States of America to participate as a facilitator/panelist at the world conference of “Vital Voices Pan-African Leadership Summit & Initiative for Women and Girls.
March 2007Invited by the University of South Florida, Tampa to conduct workshops and lectures at the department of women studies and art history, on batik and traditional African textile (Adire).
April 2007Invited by Harvard University, Cambridge to conduct workshops and lectures on batik and technique of adire textile processing and African dyeing techniques.
2008invited by University of Alberta, Edmonton Canada to conduct workshops and lectures on African batik and the technique of Adire textile processing and African dyeing methods.
August 2009Invited by the promoters of “Afrikadey” annual festival of Calgary, Canada to exhibit her works and conduct workshops on Adire processing during the six days festival.
Source: nikeart.com

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