Ozioma Onuzulike


The artist graduated first class from the department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he is currently a professor of ceramic art and African art and design history. The artist is also a fellow of the Civitella Ranieri Centre, Umbertide, Perugia, Italy, where he undertook a residency under the UNESCO-ASCHBERG Bursary for Artists, and is an alumni of the prestigious Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, USA. 

A ceramics artist and poet, his work largely focuses on the historical and sociological roots of the political and socio-economic turmoil in Africa and their debilitating effects on daily living on the continent. He often explores the aesthetic, symbolic and metaphorical nature of clay (his basic material) and the clay-working processes – pounding, crushing, hammering, wedging, grinding, cutting, pinching, punching, perforating, burning, firing – in his making of the multiple units that characterise his mixed-media projects. 

Ozioma Onuzulike encompasses African natural resources in his artworks. Onuzulike’s current project: The Palm Kernel Shell Beads series explores the aesthetic qualities and historical significance of the palm kernel. Recognising the cultural and economic value the palm kernel held in West Africa during and after the slave trade, Onuzulike translates the palm kernel as a historically charged site within his artwork. He weaves mixed media ceramic structures that resemble Africa’s prestige cloths – such as the Nigerian Akwete and Aso Oke or imported ones such as the lace fabrics that are also highly regarded in Africa as markers of social status. His work engages in conversations around the issues of social change that have remained in flux.

The artist had an institutional solo exhibition: Seed Yams of Our Land, at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos, Nigeria, in 2019, along with a presentation of his poetry collection of the same title, also published by the CCA. Last year (2021), he had his most recent solo at the Ko Gallery in Ikoyi, Lagos, entitled Ozioma Onuzulike: The Way We Are. Onuzulike’s works were included in the Entanglements: Colonial Collections in Decolonial Times exhibition that was recently concluded at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge. His work has also been featured in international art fairs such as The Armory Show in New York and 1-54 London.
Art Fairs