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Check Out Adeola Davies-Aiyeloja’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Adeola Davies-Aiyeloja.

Hi Adeola, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Growing up in Nigeria, a culture where art is not an encouraged profession, I took a different route for many years but the urge never left me. During my college years, I made a point to enroll in art classes to keep that passion going. After graduating from college, I continue to take classes with local instructors and connect with local artists.

I went into public education and spent over two decades as an educator. During those years, I sharpened my skills by engaging in workshops, studio practice and networking with other artists. I made it a point to take at least a workshop every year to support my growth as an artist and honing my skills. I took workshops with established artists, learned new processes and taking elements from what I learned and applied them to my studio practice. This led to developing my own voice, my style of work; using my palette to convey my message and history.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are always obstacles and you learn to navigate the bumps. When you fall, you get up, dust yourself and look deep inside for strength to keep moving forward. One of my initial struggles was not having the support of being an artist. The biggest current obstacle is the pandemic. It is a global obstacle and for the past year and half, we have all been navigating this uncharted global territories. At the onset of the pandemic, I suffered from creative paralysis in art-making! Even though I had envisioned being prolific, after all we are quarantined at home! Many thanks to Kristine Shoemaker of the Shoe Box Project for instituting “Call & Response Project”. Artist responds to paired partner/collaborator art within 24hours. This 13 rounds project engaged my creative brain cells differently and was helpful in coping with the pandemic. I can say that I am looking forward to Round 14, which was just announced this week!

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a multidisciplinary and intuitive artist. Over the years, my practices have always been community-based. In the 90’s, I co-curated and worked tirelessly in bringing to Inland Empire the prestigious exhibition “African American Artist Summer –Fest “ for several years. Part of the exhibition that I am most proud of was the special youth exhibition called “Tomorrow’s Masters” which honors youths from kindergarten through 12th grades in the region. In recent, years I coordinated with artists from the region and international to support the new wing of Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House by donating original art for their building. Ronald McDonald House serves many clients from different ethnicity and background. Their mission is making the space accessible to all.

One of my current artistic practices was learning the process of mosaic art from my Mosaic artist friend Erin Maroufkhani who invited me to be part of the collaborative mural. I am blessed to be part of the collaborative community mosaic art project that celebrates Black Lives, Dreams, Families, Struggles, History and Hope for the City of Riverside. This project was inspired by the movement and the brave souls who fuel it. I created three portraits out of the 32 portraits on the mural. The three portraits are Dr. Maya Angelou, Ms. Rosa Parks and Young Poet Laurette Amanda Gorman. The mural was unveiled recently so that it can be enjoyed by all.

Currently, I am proud of my ability to pivot and curated my first virtual solo exhibition “Shadow Narratives” honoring Women History Month and my current curated solo show “Heartful Remembrance: Grieved Stitched and Mended” at Metro Art Gallery in the Pomona Art Colony. This exhibition runs thru the month of August and was well received.

What an impactful year! The grief the pandemic left behind will be felt forever. We have all been affected by losing loved ones directly or indirectly. I have friends who have lost loved ones bringing it close to home! One common thread is how to move on from these enormous losses. These feelings bear heavily on me and when the solo exhibition opportunity came, I knew what the exhibition will be about. This exhibition comprised of 24 mixed Media new body of work on paper responding to healing hearts. Each piece is hand-stitched to represent the mending process. In addition to work on paper, there are fifteen wearable enameled hearts with hand stitching. They are framed to be enjoyed yearlong when not being worn! The other highlight of the exhibition is the “Remembrance Tower”. The tower showcase from around the world names of people we lost to the pandemic. In addition to the list of names are imagery gallery of US frontline workers lost to the pandemic. This has been a moving exhibition that I am hoping will become a traveling exhibition.

“Heartful Remembrance: Grieved, stitched and mended” is an exhibition recognizing our broken hearts and as we grieved, we must pick up the pieces to stitch and start the mending process. Gone, but never forgotten. In our hearts forever!

Due to the great response to the exhibition and requests a book launch is in the works showcasing the Heartful paintings, 3D wearable enamel pendants and HEALING quotes.

Stay Joyful!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I would like to encourage your readers to make point to visit the mural when in the City of Riverside. It is located on Market Street, between University and 9th Street. It is right across White Park! There is also curriculum in the works for school to use as teaching tools!

I would like to encourage your readers to follow me on Instagram or sign up for my VIP list to see book launch progress!

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Personal photo by Michael J. Elderman @eyesofriverside full mural photo by Michael J. Elderman @eyesofriverside Tajudeen Aiyeloja

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