Nigerian-born Baltimore-based Multidisciplinary artist, VILLAGER, works using a range of mediums including acrylics, oil, oil pastel, wood, cyanotype, photo, fabrics, and textile arrangements to evoke a visual language characterized by exploring and transforming cultural energy saturated in both the material and the metaphysical. Challenging the statement, “That’s just how it is” with more human-centered questions- "How did it get to be that way" & “Does it have to be that way" VILLAGER's paintings, soft sculptures, assemblage, cyanotype prints, photographs, installations, audio-visual media, and performance art pieces, investigates humanity as a product of culture and social systems through an afro-diasporic lens. By incorporating visual and material elements from their personal experiences in both cultural landscapes of Nigeria and the US, VILLAGER endeavors to explore, scrutinize, deconstruct, and redefine the existential and paradoxical question of what it means to be a “Contemporary African." 

VILLAGER's practice employs a methodology they have coined as "AFRO-ABSTRACTURE." The visualization of this method is channeled through the abstract non-figurative intuitive exploration of the work itself- using color, texture, and line patterns to manipulate or mimic African traditional fabrics. Their work strives to capture this tactile essence transformed into visually striking, bold, and spiritually charged aesthetic forms that possess "ASE”- a spatially polychronic Yoruba concept of command, energy, power (given or received), authority, creativity, and divine life force in all living and non-living things. By featuring both visual and contextual embodiments of cowries, African traditional carved wood figurines and masks, materials/objects/totems of cultural significance, and various elements of Yoruba and African spirituality practices and rituals, VILLAGER's work investigates how historical African art, cultural practices, and knowledge systems continue to inform and shape contemporary expressions and experiences. Their work also serves as a contemporary conduit for preserving and documenting African cultural heritage.

Through their meticulous research-oriented practice, VILLAGER occupies the space to challenge dominant or normative narratives surrounding social and cultural context, echoing a re-examination of consciousness and thought grounded in African knowledge systems and traditions. Their work reverberates the influence of cultural systems on the formation of identity and expression- challenging, reconstructing, recontextualizing, and rewriting perspectives on societal consciousness around culture, identity, autonomy, freedom, gender, masculinity, labor, and community.

VILLAGER's work is a love letter to all black folks across the diaspora- memorializing and honoring their existence, cultural diversity, and heritage through time in history. It bridges the past to the present, rekindling the imagination and visualization of a future that embodies and fosters both the spirit and reality of FREEDOM from colonial imagination.

image by Erika