‘Memoirs’: Master of fine arts candidate exhibit on campus

Gallery attendees viewing works by Abigail Nnaji.
Attendees to the gallery reception viewing some of Abigail Nnajis paintings.

Abigail Nnaji presents painting series inspired by experiences, changes throughout career

“Memoirs” is a curated collection of ten paintings inspired by artist Abigail Nnaji’s memories, experiences and changes throughout her career and on display in the SEB gallery.

The Student Entertainment Board hosted a gallery reception Feb. 15 featuring the master of fine arts candidate and “Memoirs,” which is on display in the Compton Union Building. The collection features paintings from Nnaji’s Abstract, Afro, Ankara and Gele painting series.

“It’s me trying to present myself to the public so they have an idea of where I started and where I am today,” Nnaji said. “If you look at the paintings, some of them look a little different than others in terms of the colors and textures.”

Each painting tells a different story and uses various techniques, styles and colors to convey that story, Nnaji said. 

“Her paintings are abstract and semi-abstract reflections of her memories,” said Amanda Moed, SEB director of gallery. “I felt her work had character and it was something that I appreciate, and I thought others could appreciate it as well.”

Nnaji said she defines some paintings as being semi-abstract because she is exaggerating the hair size and vibrant colors.

Painting hair in vibrant colors and exaggerated size is a way Nnaji has been able to express her bubbly personality.

“I laugh a lot and I play a lot,” Nnaji said. “For me, being able to translate those experiences into my work comes in [the] form of colors. Having all those vibrant colors for me just exudes a lot of happiness, joyfulness and brightness that I try to translate in my work.”

Feedback from people at the gallery reception was overwhelmingly positive, and many enjoyed the variety of elements in the paintings, Nnaji said.

“She’s very outgoing and everyone enjoys talking to her about her paintings,” Moed said.

Nnaji thinks most people were drawn to her textures, which she said is a focal point of her work. Creating some of those textures can be tedious and take a long time though.

One of the techniques Nnaji has been incorporating in her newer paintings is Chinese paper cutting, a cutting technique used to create images and patterns on paper.

Nnaji said she learned the technique at a seminar during a trip to China. The technique has become part of her process for developing certain textures.

Lately, Nnaji has been working on three-dimensional art. “Memoirs” is a way to bridge her development as an artist, Nnaji said.

“I felt like there was a gap that was missing in my work,” Nnaji said. “I felt like the paintings needed to be seen so people have an understanding of what I was doing before, and what I am doing now.”

By Irvin Villalva, The Daily Evergreen