The All-States show sees Odutola bring her own collection of body, fabric and textiles to the event — now in its 11th year. In addition to paintings, artwork for Objects, paintings and more can be found online at touchi.com
“It has all grown over the years with a lot of people looking for the variety of styles that I have,” says Odutola, whose works are now featured in exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts in Atlanta and at the Phillips Collection in Washington.
The All-States show draws from Odutola’s international experiences, as well as visions of home and family. From Oyo, Nigeria, her story focuses on growth and the idyllic world of her youth.
“I moved to the U.S. with my parents when I was 14 to live with an aunt and uncle who owned an art school in California. When I was 14, I went to New York for a summer and worked on a gallery at the Beaux Arts mansion. I was so sheltered that I was going to school and running from their house to the gallery at night,” she says.
Odutola ran away from home and moved back to Oyo at age 16, before going to study art in Boston for a year. She then moved to Seattle where she studied urban art for 10 years. After returning to her homeland, Odutola reunited with her aunt to assist her in her studio. In Oyo, Odutola discovered her passion for abstract painting, inspired by her former home and experiences in New York.
“In Seattle, I met my husband — one of our favorite things to do is run. We did a 5K in Seattle and made a cross country trip, which we continue to do,” she says.
By age 22, Odutola was living in Nigeria, teaching textile design at a university. She returned to the U.S. to attend the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
“There were exhibits at the Minnesota Art Institute (where I went to art school), the Skirball (in Los Angeles) and at the Walker (in Minneapolis), where I did a residency,” she says.
Odetola’s works reflect the chaos and uncertainty of city life in Oyo and the homesickness of her youth. Oyo, home to 13 million people, is a place where “you can just go and explore,” she says. “When I moved to Oyo, I was already thinking about these themes of chaos and disconnection — being in the city, making art, creating my aesthetic. There’s this chaos in the air and home, but you look and you see people working so hard. You see communities and women cooking, making soap and having a block party. The sense of community is very real.”
At 26, Odutola became one of the youngest designers to be in a contest sponsored by the artist and screenprinting author Anne Sargeant-Puryear. In 2005, she won the project that prompted her to expand her interests and artistic concepts, winning the first $25,000 Film Millie grant.
“It was amazing. The money was used to buy a Vuitton suitcase and showed up at the charity we were working with. At that point, I knew I wanted to be an artist. There was a fashion company and fashion magazine in New York and Los Angeles where I sent a portfolio,” she says.
A few years later, Odutola represented Nigeria at the national art fair and studied with the iconic American artist Louise Bourgeois in New York.
“It was a rediscovery of the art world. The experience came when I came to this country to go to Parsons. I was a young designer and I was from Lagos. I was in a new space and knew I wanted to do so many different things,” she says.
Odetola is currently working on another documentary series — this time, a look at her life — featuring the work she produces.
“I hope to be showing prints again at the Phillips Gallery and having a booth there,” she says. “It has been a long time.”
Odutola will attend as part of “Icons.Doors” from 7-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Phillips Collection.