We had the good fortune of connecting with Adeola Davies-Aiyeloja and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adeola, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
I am an artist and that makes me happy. It makes me happy being creative and spending time in the studio to create using many different media in expressing my self! Being in nature makes me happy because nature inspires me and fuel my creativity. My family makes me happy, the love of my loved ones is priceless!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a multidisciplinary artist, I work in several media. How did I get here? I was born and raised in Lagos Nigeria, a landscape rich in culture of colorful people, textiles, food, and education. Growing up in Nigeria, the culture expectation is to be a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer; art is not an encouraged profession. This expectation led me on a non-artistic pathway for many years but the urge never left me. As I navigated my way through higher education, I find myself participating in artsy craft. When I started college while taking full load classes for Business Administration I always make room for art classes to keep my passion lit. This practice continued through teaching credentialing and graduate school. I took lower and upper level art classes in printmaking, art history, ceramics, photography and many more. I also started to network with local and regional artists through workshops. I took workshops with established artists, learning new process and taking elements from what I learned to apply to my studio practice and amplify my artistic voice.
After college, I went into gallery management and started working and connecting with mid-career local, regional, and international artists. From this collaborations, I co-curated African American Artists Summerfest from 1992-1998, and was proud of the special youth exhibition called, Tomorrow’s Masters “which honors youths from kindergarten through 12th grades in the regions.”
I became an educator in K-12 title one public school that served the minority population in the Inland Empire. Started out teaching elementary and transitioned to middle school where I taught for almost two decades. I taught yearbook design, Video- TV Production and Computer applications. This experience is pivotal in my career as an artist because it allowed me to nurture young minds. We had many enriching hobby shop hours where my students learned about art journal, painting, drawing, 3-D construction and metalsmithing jewelry. I received the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program Native American Arts Workshops scholarships for several years. This scholarship allowed me to learn about the Native American Hopi and Navajo jewelry techniques which I then taught to my hobby shop students.
While in education, I was also actively engaged with many art organizations in and out of the region. I am engaged with organizations such as Riverside Art Museum, Chaffey Community Art Museum, Brandon Gallery, Riverside Community Art Association, Redlands Art Association, Pomona Valley Art Association, San Bernardino Art Association, Los Angeles Art Association, Metal Arts Society of Southern California, and The Enamellist Society.
As a lifelong learner, art afford me the ability to impact people locally and nationally, nurture young minds and allow my art practice to continue growing. My art has won many awards locally and nationally, from award of merits to best of show. My art is currently prominently gracing the set of CBS “The Neighborhood”. Also, on the set of of Bob Heart Abishola and many more. After many years as a printmaker and painter, I discovered the art of Limoges enameling which is the art of using powder vitreous glass to create art.
In recent years, my practices have matured and I have expanded to causes that are very dear to me. My art addresses platform that deals with immigration, homelessness, social injustices, global warming, environmental deficiencies, and women health and gender issues. Some of these issues have affected and challenged me personally. I have experienced systemic racism on many levels!
Last year, I had just finished my one woman show in February titled “Echoes of Shadow Revealed.” The shadow was a metaphor for immigration issues that I and many others encountered before the pandemic. The pandemic led to creative paralysis for many artists including myself and what help me was collaborating with artists in Call & Response: Collaboration at a Distance”. This is the process of respond to another artist call and vice versa. This allows me to express my frustration with systemic racism where I created two dimensional and performance art on the injustice facing African Americans. It was also during this time that I was invited to join Rise Mosaic Mural collaboration for the City of Riverside in recognition of BLM. Adding my voice to this mural is supporting my community.
My latest exhibition is a self-curated Virtual solo exhibition titled “Shadow Narratives” in celebration of Women History Month. I am currently, working on new body of abstracted work for future exhibition.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Inland Empire and Southern California is full of many wonderful gems. To plan a week’s itinerary for a friend will stretch from the desert to the ocean. We would first explore my local art scene by visiting the San Bernardino County Museum, Riverside Art Museums and other local art space like Riverside Community Art Association where I sometimes show my art. You cannot visit Riverside without taking a tour of The Mission Inn and strolling thru downtown Riverside. A stop over at Simple Simon for breakfast and lunch at Grams’ Mission BBQ is a must. I will make sure we stop by Toni Moore clothing for some contemporary creations.
I will have my guest visit historic City of Redlands, The Smiley library, Lincoln Memorial, Redlands Bowl, stroll through downtown State Street and while there stop by Redlands Art Association for some unique artisan creations for souvenir gifts and maybe an enamel earrings by yours truly, chow down one of the best Thai grub in the area at Siam Dish.
After exploring the local digs we can venture out to places such as Joshua Tree National Park to be awed by nature and star gazing, Hiking in Idyllwild and making sure we visit the local Middle Ridge Winery and Art Gallery for a unique art and wine tasting experience in the mountain while also checking out some of my work on display there. We can’t hit the desert without visiting the beach. Crystal Cove and Laguna Beach is where we will be dipping our feet’s in the water, picnic lunch at Heisler Park and wait to catch the sunset.
A week visit only give one a taste of what my city and Southern California has to offer. A return trip is definitely a MUST!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This is a tough one, not because there are none but rather I have so many people I would love to give shout out to. Over the years, many people have encouraged and supported me. Thank God for blessing my creativity. I wouldn’t be where I am today without God’s gift. Family is very important and my family supports have helped me along the way. I enjoyed creating and spending time in the studio… Getting ready for an exhibition is not an easy task. Don’t know how I could have done it without my family’s support. When I was raising my children and needed a creative outlet, I found it in my local teacher and mentor, Lucielle von Wolffersdorff. She was instrumental in my love for printmaking, encouraged me in going beyond her class to taking printmaking along with her at Crafton College. We stayed in contact until she passed. Watching Charles Bibbs developed his business tenacity has been helpful in my connections with many organizations.
Youtube: Adeola Studio
Tajudeen Aiyeloja, Chaffey Community Museum of Art