Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University. This Friday’s #ArtCrush is Nyaomi, a fourth year student majoring in Photography.
In this issue, Morgan and Nyaomi talk about how to connect to people through art, the intersections of research and art, and using textiles and embroidery in image making.
Who or what inspires your art making?
Life, Love and people. In general I love connecting with people and art allows me to do that. Through this, my understanding of life has shifted and I’m thankful for that.
What subject matter do you tend to spend the most time working on?
Since I spend a lot of time analyzing life, my subject matter tends to be about my experiences and those close to me. So it starts off really personal and I try to make it so more people can relate, not just me alone. I usually start at a place of hurt. My belief is there’s a lack of self love and this is the root of a lot of the issues we have relating to ourselves and others. To have more loving interactions and relationships, we have to unlearn negative ideologies that have been normalized.
NS Wallpaper, 2015. Originally a scan from handwriting.
What drives you to work on this subject matter?
Purpose. I believe that ultimately my purpose is to help others and art is my gift and vessel to do so. Art gives us a platform to inspire and stir up conversation, so I ask myself what conversations I’m trying to spark when creating. My aim is to bring awareness to what’s been repressed and present alternative perceptions.
You work a lot with portraiture, what do you believe makes an effective and compelling portrait?
Body language. 55% of our communication is body language.
Looking at the different works that you have done, how do you think your artistic practice has changed over time?
In past shows, all my work was photo based until 2015. More recently I’ve been creating textiles/patterns and working with fabric and embroidery.
In terms of subject matter I used to focus more on the black experience. For example Appreciation which is about black men and Preference Is Not Privilege I which is about skin and hair. This year I’ve been looking into alternative perspectives on depression, something that effects all races.
Preference Is Not Privilege I, 2013. Digital Photography. 73×38
You have mentioned before that research is a part of your process and how you work, how do you think research intersects with the art work you produce?
Yes, Research is huge for me – it’s what grounds my work. However my research is not books and essays alone. I learn from fellow artists’ (singers/songwriters, screenwriters, all visual artists), conversations, and my experiences, etc. I am a student of life so I’m taking what I’m learning and expressing it visually. I start off with a topic, research it to understand it better, then share my understanding though art to have more conversations and shared learning.
Do you see your research and art separate or as intersecting elements?
Intersecting. Especially this year. I’ve learned so much about depression and myself while creating which has informed the work. So the art making became a part of my research, it is a beautiful exchange. As a result the meaning of the work has shifted. And I am okay with that.
Rosa Seca, 2015. Embroidery. 10″ hoop.
Where do you see your career path going and who would you most like to work with?
I see myself becoming a full time artist connecting with like minded people to learn, grow, create and share.
How do you think your personal life has affected the kind of art work you want to make?
It is the biggest influence. All my work stems from a personal place.
Appreciation, 2013, Digital Photography, 73″ x 38″
Are their any specific OCAD U Faculty who have influenced your work? A specific discipline or course?
Betty Julian!!! She reminded me to think critically about what I was doing. For clarification, she didn’t teach me to be hard on myself (that’s all me) but I knew not to come to her critiques with insincere work and contrived explanations. My art practice became stronger after Betty’s Current Practice class, so I always tried to be in her classes.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone looking to collaborate with other artists?
Be open minded. We can learn a lot from each other when we let go of our egos. But know yourself. What is it you want to communicate with your art? Don’t be easily swayed by what others are saying and doing. Remember your truth.
To view more of Nyaomi’s work visit her website or check her out on instagram
See Nyaomi’s work at the
102nd Graduate Exhibition at OCAD University, May 3rd-7th.
Friday #ArtCrush is a weekly blog series highlighting students in their final year at OCAD University.
Interview by Morgan Sears-Williams
About the writer: Morgan is a fourth year photography student and runs the Friday #ArtCrush series on the OCAD U Photography Blog. She loves speaking to other artists about social justice, how to break barriers within artist communities and nurturing the arts in alternative spaces. She is the Art Director for The RUDE Collective, a student representative on the Photography Curriculum Committee and has done workshops on intersectionality and allyship relating to LGBTQ folks. To see more, you can visit her website or her instagram.