By inventively handling her material within a formalist sculptural framework, combined with a highly developed experimental approach to making art, she creates work that is unorthodox, persistently innovative, and ignores boundaries between different cultural heritages and socially constructed constraints.
Tugbiyele’s sculptural process combines the weaving of fibrous materials such as palm spines around light metal structures, producing abstract figurative forms with universal elements of androgyny, armor, flight, seduction, myth and mystery. Her practice is influenced by multiple genres including ready-made/assemblage, architecture and performance/film. While her work does not openly narrate the events in her life, they are certainly rooted in her cultural, political and emotional experiences as she continuously explore strategies that fuse her aesthetic concerns with playful ironies and poetic metaphors. Despite the fact that she does not avoid the significance of content in her work, they still manage to tell stories of hope and courage, of compassion and resilience that speak to the triumph of the human spirit
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1977 to Nigerian immigrants, and raised for seven years in Lagos Nigeria, award-winning artist/activist Adejoke Tugbiyele boldly, yet delicately weaves complex ideas about race, gender, sexuality, spirituality and migration. Tugbiyele’s work has been exhibited at reputable institutions around the world including the Brooklyn Museum, The Newark Museum, The Museum of Arts and Design, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos Nigeria, The Goethe-Institut (in Lagos, Nigeria and Washington D.C), The Centre for Contemporary Art, Torun, Poland, and The United Nations. Tugbiyele’s work is in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, The Newark Museum and in significant private collections in the United States and Hong Kong.
Adejoke Tugbiyele is the recipient of several awards including being named Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2015, a Fulbright U.S. Student Fellowship in 2013, the 2014 Serenbe Artist-in-Residence, the 2013 Amalie Rothschild Award, and the 2012 William M. Phillips Award for best figurative sculpture. In 2014, images of her sculptural works graced the first-ever United States publication of poetry by the African Poetry Book Fund. Her work has been mentioned and featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Artsy, Financial Mail, This Day Live, The Feminist Wire, The Star Ledger, Intense Art Magazine, Africanah, Okay Africa, Art South Africa, Mail & Guardian, and ArtThrob. In 2014, she appeared on CNN International as the first openly gay woman of Nigerian heritage to come out in the media. Tugbiyele received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art.