I call her the “Poetic artist extraordinaire”, her art is so much more than pictures, its soul searching!
Layo Bright is a young Lagos-based artist. A graduate of Law from Babcock University, Nigeria and a member of the Nigerian Bar Association. She is currently studying in New York undertaking an MFA Fine Arts at Parsons The New School for Design. Miss Bright outside these achievements, also is the Legal Developments contributor at TSA (The Sole Adventurer) Magazine/Blog.
Her earlier works are an exploration into textural painting with a minimalist approach and in these works she addresses; political, societal and gender issues figuratively, through sculptural compositions which include perforations, scrapings and use of mixed media. Talk about depth!She has exhibited at Parsons the New School for Design, New York, USA in 2013 as well, at The Nimbus Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria, 2015.
A combination of Drive, talent and beauty within and out, I can tell you that for certain, lets meet Miss Layo Bright shall we?
At what age did you discover the artist in you?
“I don’t know the exact age per se, but I know that I’ve always practiced art. In primary school I would doodle during all my classes (especially Math class) to ease the boredom. Lol! So I would say it’s something I noticed from a young age.”
Did you at any point need to silence your creative persona while you studied a more ‘formal’ profession, Law?
“I really struggled with finding a balance. There was the creative side to me that I couldn’t ignore. And there was the very demanding course load for Law. I ended up creating an Art Club, so I wouldn’t have to compromise my passion for my profession. It also made me equally committed to my art and Law.”
What inspires your art and who are your major influences?
“My art is inspired by everything around me: current events especially in Nigeria. Even Lagos traffic inspires me. Culture is also a major inspiration.”
What category of art do you belong to?
” I wouldn’t want to categorize myself as a certain kind of artist. In my opinion an artist should be diverse in their work at different points in their life. I’m an interdisciplinary artist; whatever medium best describes the issue I’m trying to address, is what I use.”
Which artist(s) would you love to work with?
“I would like to work with Peju Alatise. Her work is very thought-provoking and deals with issues I find very compelling. I would also like to work with Hank Willis Thomas, and El Anatsui.”
Do you have favorite artworks produced by other artist and if, which?
“I don’t have a particular artwork that is my favorite at the moment. I used to love certain classical Renaissance paintings, and I still do, but I’ve broadened my horizon to more modern contemporary art. I recently got very interested in the works of Jean Michel Basquiat, Glenn Ligon, Nari Ward, Zoe Buckman, etc.”
Can you tell me a little more about your art? Because I must admit, going through a few of your works, they seem to be more abstract than obvious, somewhat ‘poetic’.
“My art is usually a response to how I feel about my society, policies, economic instability, patriarchy, and other hierarchical structures (to name a few). A lot of people may see my work as abstract, but I like to think of it more as conceptual, and a deeper investigation to my personal views. Abstract seems to become a term that been used to classify a lot of art that is different from portraiture or landscape (especially in Nigeria). But art is truly diverse; right now I’m working on installations and conceptual art which is a departure from my beginnings in painting.”
How has the response towards your art been so far and what is your strongest support base?
“The response has been better than I thought expected. I have interacted with lots of people, and getting a sense of their candid thoughts and experiences with the work was very fulfilling.”
What moments or moods are you most creative?
“There is always something on my mind, always something happening in the world, always a feeling to convey. So in every moment there is a possibility for new work.”
Can your creative process actually be tiresome?
“Haha! Tiresome? I actually enjoy physically laborious projects that have me staying up all night and constantly thinking. Those are the best moments, when I enjoy my work the most.”
Would you, having studied law, say there is any connection or similarity between both worlds?
“Definitely! Art and Law have so many intersections. In the Nigerian context, this needs to be explored further than Copyright issues.“
What would you say has been essential to your development as an artist?
“Learning; most people don’t know the level of research and knowledge that is expended in making artwork. Unlearning, letting go of preconceived notions, and rethinking many of the things that have been oriented into our way of thinking. Networking; it’s always great to meet and talk to people (artists and non artists).”
How long (averagely), would it take you to complete an art work and what stage for you is most delicate or somewhat difficult?
“There is no duration really. It can take any amount of time. Sometimes I never feel quite happy with a work, so I keep going back to it. The most delicate stage is the research. I need to know exactly what I’m talking about.“
I find that with creative’s it is either one or the other; we are either sentimentally attached to the creation or more excited about sharing them (lol). Which are you?
“The best part is showing my work. I’ve had instances where I was so excited to create the work, but having no one to show it to takes all the fulfillment from it. Art is made to have an audience.“
Do you have any of your works you are most attached to and which?
“I used to be, but not at the moment. I’m more concerned about the message I’m putting across, and challenging myself to convey that in a relatable way to a diverse group of people.“
Where do you envision yourself as an artist, 5- 10 years from now?
“I would like to create work that is globally relevant. I would also like to be involved in philanthropic work.”
How do you relax/unwind outside of creating?
“I read or listen to music.”
What’s your message to individuals struggling to hide their unique identities, abilities and/or gifts, so they are not viewed differently or tagged ‘un-cool’?
“The fear of the unknown is never a good reason to suppress your talents. If you want it bad enough, you have to work decisively hard for it.”
The beauty of her art is an embodiment of the whole; the actual creation/art piece and the message it relates. Pure poetry like i said, lets see!
The concept of the work initially came about as a recurrent dream, just after the conclusion of my Parsons Summer Intensive Course. This piece was my first attempt at perforating wood; I have always been interested in sculpture, and in an attempt to add more texture to the wood I began etching away at the piece. The entire thing happened in the heat of the moment, a surge of emotions were welling up inside me, and I pierced the work as an expression of release.
In the weeks preceding the conception of the work, I had come across the news of a Nigerian Senator named Yerima marrying a 13 year old girl. This news brought about intense feelings of inequality between the sexes especially in my culture. The work positions the women’s legs in an attempt to show them ‘rising up’ from the oppression.
Busy body is a commentary on the social dynamics that seek presence in the personal lives of individuals. Especially in the Nigerian context, gossip is a common activity that strongly influences a societal perception of the individual or their family life. This act, of the observer constantly looking into the affairs of others, was a crucial element in portraying this work as a social commentary. Also hinting at undertones of the construct of community or society assuming a role of dominance in the lives of individuals, whereby the observer is judge and arbiter.
Literally translating to “Wura’s tears” or “Tears of gold”, this piece plays around with scale to confront the viewer directly with subsumed emotion. An apparent zoom on the face, the painting excludes the facial features expected in such a narrative, and instead focuses on the result of the emotion as the catalyst for representing a state of vulnerability. The absence of a figure allow the viewer to confront the tears as an object itself, which takes on an assumed presence in the space of the painting.
Miss Layo Bright’s art is pure, raw, and intelligent skill that is quite thought provoking. I believe it speaks to all.