Before doing this interview, the artist Toyin Ojih Odutola and I spoke briefly via email about some of the discussion she hopes to open with her work. Ojih Odutola is a New York-based artist focused on self-portrait drawings done in black ballpoint ink that works to venerate skin color. Born in Nigeria and raised in Alabama, Ojih Odutola focuses on elevating the layers of blackness in her portraits. She portrays intimate moments of herself and sometimes her brothers. She says her work is sensual and visual foreplay.
Both of us were really interested in the way people treat artists based on their perceived authenticity. I pull bits and pieces from our initial email discussion and designed an open worksheet for her to respond with. The questions below are very loose but her responses are earnest. I used my Sharpie and she used her black pen to riff on the Western art historical canon and making art to pay the rent. Enjoy the journey in sketches and memoir below: