Beyond the Bio is a series that takes you past the canvas and into the minds of the artists and curators who build the contemporary arts community.

Name: Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya (Akirash)

Primary Medium: Interdisciplinary

ATIBABA “2” / HERE I LIVE NOW”2” , MIXED MEDIA TAPESTRY SCULPTURE INSTALLATION, 14 X 25 X 35 FT, 2017

What motivates your work?

My work focuses on moments of time, fleeting moments that can be easily forgotten or transformed. My work reflects on rural versus urban life, the accelerated pace of development, and social infrastructure. My work explores the personal and the universal, investigating the invisible systems of power that govern everyday existence.

Why interdisciplinary work?

I utilize a multitude of techniques and materials, including repurposed objects, which may result in any combination of mixed media painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography, sound, or performance. My most recent work is inspired from traditional textile weaving.

PETITION, MIXED MEDIA TAPESTRY SCULPTURE INSTALLATION, 13 X 20 X 3 FT, 2015

How long have you been an artist and how has your practice changed over time?

I have been working as a full time artist for 17 years. My career has changed as I have grown, been exposed to new ideas, and have challenged myself with difficult projects and unfamiliar environments, places, and people. I treat every opportunity I get as if it will be the last. This forces me to excel in what I do.

WORK IN PROGRESS STILL CONSTRUCTING, MIXED MEDIA TAPESTRY SCULPTURE LIGHT INSTALLATION, 60 X 50 X 50 FT, 2016

What are you working on right now?

My current work focuses on immigration and the state of world economy. It is a hot issue right now, but it is one that never goes away. It has become a bone in our neck that hard to chew – difficult to spit out – but we are all involved directly or indirectly. I am using different materials and techniques to question, search for solutions, and involve everyone in the project. The project needs to be in the public domain, so most of the works are large public interactive installations that I often perform in or around.

What does the Austin arts community need most as the city continues to grow?

  1. More interactive art events that include citizens that may not be regularly exposed to art.
  2. Give more Artists that live in Austin exposure so that they can build their careers and bring more prestige to the Austin arts scene. Austin needs to be able to catapult their artists onto the national and international stage, rather than always bringing in artists from outside the city.
  3. Create programs like Artists in Residency and Awards which have transparency and open jury in their selection process.
  4. Appoint people who really deal with art and artists to be in charge of programs and art funding in the city. It strikes me as unusual that many of the people who work in the cultural divisions of the city are not be seen in the exhibitions and art events in the city. I am not sure how they can judge, have an idea of what artists need or what needs to be improved without being more interactive with art and artists.

 


Olaniyi is a recipient of the Innovative Artist Award from the Mid America Artist Alliance (MAAA / NEA) for 2017, Pollock Krasner Foundation Award 2016/17 & 2011, Cultural Initiative & Capacity Building Grant, Culture Alive from city of Austin 2016/17, the Santo Foundation grant 2015, and the Commonwealth Connection Award UK 2011.

Throughout his career, the role of residencies and interactions with other artists has been pivotal to his work. Olaniyi has been awarded residencies in the USA Residency Fellowship at International Studio and Curatorial Program NY 2016/17, Oklahoma State University Museum of Art 2015, University of Texas in Austin 2015, Santa Fe Art Institute Residency Award 2015, Mass gallery (Hot box Residency in Austin TX 2014, Centraltrak UTDallas 2013, Residency at Triangle Art Association New York 2012, residency at the Vytlacil of Art Students League New York,  Residency Fellowship at Vermont studio Center 2011, Fellowship Residency at Bluesky Project Woodstock – Chicago 2008, artists in Residency at Artcroft Kentucky. Internationally, Olaniyi has been awarded residencies Art at the Heart Award 2016 & 17 in Western Australia, Sacatar Instituto Fellowship Residency Brazil 2015, Kiosko Gallery Residency in Bolivia 2014, Fellowship Residency at John Muafangejo Art Center Namibia 2013, Fellowship Residency at Nafasi Art Space Tanzania 2012, Tupelo / Bag Factory Residency South Africa 2012, Nirox Projects Space Residency Johannesburg- South Africa 2012, Residency at Gladstone Gallery Toronto – Canada 2011, Centre for contemporary Art Residency Lagos- Nigeria 2010, Thami Mnyele Foundation Amsterdam-The Netherlands 2010, and Sansa Triangle International Residency in Kumasi – Ghana 2009.

Olaniyi’s work was exhibited at the 12th edition of Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar- Senegal 2016. He also participated in Chale Wote Street Festival Accra – Ghana 2013, International Multimedia Festival Yagon-Myanmar 2012, infecting the City Street Festival Cape Town – South Africa 2012, and the East Africa Biennale (ESTAFAB), Dar Sallam – Tanzania 2005 & 2007.

His works and writing has been featured in several publications including Important World Artists Vol 1, Hidden Treasure Art Magazine UK, Virtual Residency 2006/2007 Germany, Freedom to Create Prize 2009, ART EDUCATION (The journal of the national art education association Vol 68, No. 6) Studio Visit Magazine Vol 26 & Vol 34, Critical Interventions (journal of African Art History & Visual Culture. NOV 11). Spring 2013, Reechantments (The City in the Blue Daylight) Dak’Art 12thEdition 2016.

Keep up with AKIRASH on his website, FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Beyond the Bio is curated by Art Alliance Austin. If you’re interested in being featured email Ashlee at apryor@artallianceaustin.org.