AfriPOP!: Dawn Okoro


A lady outfitted in a costume suited for the finest dandy. A girl carefully crops out her face as she snaps her nude body with her camera phone. A dewy-faced, wet-lipped American Apparel model. These are the images that have inspired Ms. Dawn Okoro. Vibrant, sensual, and human are the oil on canvas paintings interpreting glossy fashion ads. With her recent move to New York, the part-Nigerian law student turned contemporary fine artist, is swiftly gaining recognition in these mean streets, having recently closed an exhibition at Harlem’s Renaissance Fine Arts Gallery. We previously featured Dawn Okoro’s work on the site, but we decided to catch up with her, in an attempt to gain entry into the mind of the gifted painter.

Afripopmag: When did you decide to pursue the art of painting?

Dawn Okoro: In law school, I painted, and during that time and it helped me pay my rent.  I did commissions and sold original pieces that I made. After that, I knew that life wasn’t for me. I just couldn’t see myself being in a courtroom everyday. So from then on I just had to pursue the art. I went to law school in Houston Texas, and that’s where I met an artist named William Cordova. He introduced me to a lot of different options that I didn’t know about for being an artist so that was really encouraging. I guess that was something I got out of going to law school.

Why did you move to New York?

I moved to pursue art, and I thought it would be a faster pace than Texas and more result-oriented. I thought I could accelerate things by moving out here.

So, why do you paint?

I grew up drawing a lot so I think painting was a natural progression from that. I was able to make the work more expressive through the paint. I love bright, saturated colors. I like to paint because it can be so grand if I want it to be.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by fashion a lot, by fashion advertising, by popular culture, and human interactions, body language.

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