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Bukola Koiki Makes Motifs and Meaning in the Beam Classroom

November 10, 2022

Cora Dow
TAKE A SEAT: Multimedia artist Kukola Koiki presents on her work as it relates to her identity and her experience as a Nigerian-American woman in Beam Classroom on Tuesday evening. She also did a workshop with the Printmaking I class.

On Tuesday evening, students, faculty and members of the Brunswick community gathered in the Beam Classroom to hear Bukola Koiki’s talk “On Motifs and Meaning.”

Koiki, who is a multimedia, fiber-focused artist, received her BFA in communication design from the University of North Texas and her MFA in applied Craft and Design from the Oregon College of Art and Pacific Northwest College of Art. She then found her way to Maine, first as a teaching fellow and visiting Assistant Professor of Printmaking at Maine College of Design in Portland and most recently at Bates College as the inaugural Collaborative Artist in Residence and Lecturer in the Humanities. Her art has been featured at the American Craft Council Emerging Artists Exhibition in Philadelphia, the Chicago Printmakers Collaborative and at Portland’s Space Gallery.

Prior to beginning her academic career in the United States, Koiki lived in Lagos, Nigeria, where she was born and raised. Informed by her experience as a Nigerian-born woman living in the United States, Koiki’s work explores the intersectionality of her identity and reconciles her American education with her Yoruba heritage.

Koiki highlighted several works, each of which incorporated an array of mediums and techniques, including beading, cloth-weaving, hair-threading, printing, and videography.

Like much of her work, Koiki’s 2014 multimedia piece, “I Claim That Which Was Never Mine,” used canvas, dyes and video elements to capture her experience returning to a cultural practice that she never learned by virtue of having immigrated to the United States.

“In this project, I set out to investigate the idea that people experiencing cultural displacement and dislocation might sort of imbibe a claim or piece of their internal culture,” Koiki said. “Specifically in this case, the skill of tying head ties, which I would have learned at the feet of my mother, had I stayed in Nigeria long enough, because my sister was about to get married. I thought, ‘I’m gonna go home and it’s gonna be beautiful lace, textiles and stuff that I’ll be wearing, and there I’ll be, the one with the limp head tie.’ So, I decided to make it a project.”

Koiki came to Bowdoin on behalf of the Marvin Bileck Printmaking Project, which brings a contemporary printmaker to Bowdoin to work alongside the College’s printmaking students in an intensive of their printmaking specialty. This fund is currently run by visiting Printmaking I Professor Mary Hart, who opened the talk. She first came into contact with Koiki’s work while looking for an artist to bring to the school.

“I started talking to my network of printmakers in Maine and asking about people who might bring an international viewpoint,” Hart said. “Bukola’s name came up from two or three people and so we reached out to her.”

This week, Koiki will be working alongside Hart’s Printmaking I class in a woodblock print creating intensive.

Diego DeSouza ’25, a member of Hart’s printmaking class, found Koiki’s combination of printmaking and craft to be unlike anything he’d seen before in the discipline.

“[It is so] interesting learning about craft culture in a part of the world completely different from us and then how that relates to Printmaking I, which up until now has been focusing pretty much on Eurocentric printmaking,” DeSouza said. “[Koiki’s] perspective is pretty cool. And I’m really excited actually to learn about the crafts that she teaches us in the workshop coming up.”


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