top of page

Nnenna Okore

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

Artist 239

Nnenna Okore

Biomorphic Sculpture

Nnenna Okore (born 1975) is an Australian-Nigerian artist who specializes in abstract sculptures made from textural materials.

Her largely abstract sculptures are inspired by textures, colors and forms within her immediate social environment. Okore’s structures mimic the intricacies of the fabric, trees, bark, and topography familiar from her childhood in Nigeria. Her manually repetitive techniques of fraying, weaving, dyeing, and sewing recall her childhood experiences, where she watched and participated in daily manual activities like cooking, washing, harvesting, and fabricating brooms.

Okore's work frequently uses flotsam or discarded objects to create intricate sculpture and installations through repetitive and labor-intensive techniques. Most of Okore's work explores detailed surfaces and biomorphic formations. This means she creates form that are suggestive in shape to that of a living organism.

Okore tends to feature the organic, fibrous, malleable, and ethereal qualities of materials. In her present works, the materials capture the visual characteristics of transient, root-like or dense forms. Paper, in particular offers a range of possibilities to Okore's process. She also incorporates the symbolic narrative nature of newspapers. Burlap fibre is also featured in Okore's work, in which it is used for its transient and delicate features.

Okore’s elaborate sculptures interact with their environments; she often strategically lights the work to cast shadows and highlight particular aspects. She sometimes pairs her sculptures with ambient sounds recalling her childhood in Nigeria or video projections. Okore’s work often surrounds the viewer, with installations extending up the walls and onto the ceiling or into the center of the room.

Okore says of her work, "I am intrigued by natural events like aging, death and decay that bring about weathering and dilapidation in objects and natural forms -- processes that subtly capture the fluid and delicate nature of life."

Themes of aging, death and decay are recurrent in Okore’s work. She captures the diverse and tactile aspects of the physical world through weathered, dilapidated and lifeless forms. Through manually repetitive processes, Okore's works reveal the complex and distinct properties of fabric, trees, barks, topography, and architecture. Her works are also inspired by traditional women’s craft in Africa.

On her use of decaying materials she explains, "As long I have been old enough and conscious enough to talk and think, I remember being drawn to certain elements in my surroundings. I was drawn to things like fiber and trees and roots. My works that are beginning to speak about age and the process of decay were triggered by gaining a better understanding of the materials that I use -- old rope, sticks, paper, tend to break down over time. I’ve been really enamored by how at the beginning of creating my work, two years later, they change and transform in themselves and become a really different body of work."

Sources Consulted…/en…/us_56255056e4b02f6a900d59a6/amp


bottom of page