Maker Monday: Up Close With Artist Abidemi Olowonira

Born in Nigeria, newly-Brooklyn based artist Abidemi Olowonira uses pieces of leather to create acclaimed textured artwork. After studying art in Houston and showing his work in galleries around the world, Abidemi’s handcrafted work caught the attention of leather hide rug designer Kyle Bunting. Combining Abidemi’s eye for geometric abstraction and Kyle’s founding knowledge of complex floor covering design, the two launched their Element collaboration this fall, comprised of three distinct designs to great acclaim. Fresh from receiving his 2019 Elle Decor International Design Award for Best Floorcovering, Abidemi chatted with us about what’s next, and his upcoming move to a Brooklyn studio.

Cream and cobalt bring this 3D piece by Abidemi to life.

Andrew Joseph: What are three things you can’t live without?
Abidemi Olowonira: Art, music, and a calm atmosphere (mindset) to enjoy and contemplate them.

Andrew: What’s one ingredient you put in everything?
Abidemi: Telling stories; I believe in the art of storytelling and the better imagined a story is, the more relativity it will have with people. Therefore I like to engage people imaginatively.

Andrew: Favorite place to view art?
Abidemi: One of my favorite places to view art is the Menil Collection in Houston, TX and its admission is free. Its collection spans centuries and encompasses many cultural artifacts. The building, designed by architect Renzo Piano, is sublime, intimate and ideal for contemplating the arts. It’s truly a masterful consummation between arts, architecture, and onlookers. This may change as there are many such places in New York.

Andrew: Who is your ideal client?
Abidemi: One who is not afraid of taking risk and challenging the norms. One who understands that creative art is a process, therefore can think or approach art beyond just definition.

A combination of hides and shapes brings texture and tacticality together.

Andrew: Song you can listen to on repeat?
Abidemi: Beethoven’s Concerto No. 5 (aka Emperor Concerto). One of the best pieces of music ever composed. It also brings back some childhood memories of organ players at church.

Andrew: What are you most excited about at this time in your life?
Abidemi: I am most excited about my Brooklyn studio which, after taking 2 years hiatus to travel and gain new inspirations, will provide the space for the exploration of new ideas and experiments.

Andrew: Who is a contemporary inspiration in your field?
Abidemi: There are hosts of women creatives that are furthering the dialog of equality, sexuality, race, environmental, etc. Dialogs that are very essential to the continuing growth and survival of humanity. Some of these women have been recognized by art institutions and many still work outside the radar, however, their messages are equally resonating.


About The Maker | Abidemi Olowonira is a Nigerian born American visual artist. Olowonira is best known for his distinct handcrafted leather assemblages and wall reliefs that are influenced by his passion for storytelling, structures, and space. He earned a Bachelor from Texas Southern University in 2008 and an MFA from Houston Baptist University in 2015. He currently resides and works out of his studio in Houston, Texas.

Andrew Joseph is a regular contributing editor for ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME magazine. See more of his work here

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ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is seeker and storyteller of the sublime in living. It is a global guide to in-depth and varied views of beauty and shelter that stirs imagination; that delights and inspires homeowners as well as art and design doyens. Collaborating with emergent and eminent architects, artisans, designers, developers and tastemakers, ASPIRE creates captivating content that savors the subjects and transports with stunning imagery and clever, thought-provoking writing. Through lush and unique visuals and a fresh editorial lens, ASPIRE explores what is new and undiscovered in art, interiors, design, culture, real estate, travel and more. ASPIRE DESIGN AND HOME is an international narrative and resource for all seeking the sublime.