Tonia Nneji is a Nigerian artist who came from a long line of traditional carvers and masquerade carriers. Following in her family’s footsteps, she pursued an education in art and received her bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the University of Lagos in 2016. She extensively uses bold colors and traditional fabric patterns in her work as a way to explore her African roots. Drawing from her own personal experiences, her stunning works reflects her own struggles and experiences with mental health issues and women’s autonomy.
Fabric plays a central role in Nneji’s works, as it does in her culture. The women depicted in her paintings are either draped or posed next to colorful, intricate fabric akin to those commonly found in Nigeria. With them, she explores the intricate relationship between the women’s body and fabric, how it is simultaneously a tool to protect as well as a representation of culture and status. She considers her works as social activism, using them as a starting point in conversations for topics that are often considered taboo in society.
Tonia Nneji's work is accessible through : http://www.rele.co/tonia-1 , or on her instagram @tonia_nneji.