Jacqueline Suowari is the Nigerian artist illustrating the human working experience with a ballpoint pen

Created by Nadia Leigh-Hewitson

From a length, Jacqueline Suowari’s larger-than-lifestyle portraits glance like monochromatic pictures overlaid with colorful graphics. On nearer inspection, you see these remarkable illustrations or photos are the end result of hundreds of little lines built working with a easy ballpoint pen.

Suowari, 31, has been an artist since she was a little one, practising skillfully for around a 10 years. She examined High-quality Art at the College of Port Harcourt in southern Nigeria, and has participated in team exhibitions globally and had solo exhibitions in Miami and Nigeria.

Her work has been featured in many publications which include Chukwuemeka Ben Bosah’s e-book, “The Art of Nigerian Ladies,” which celebrates feminine artists from the Nigerian diaspora.

This June she released a touring exhibition of her new body of work entitled “Now I Put on Myself.” In her new exhibition, Suowari considers the fetishization and condemnation of aesthetics related with indigenous Nigerian cultures, and attempts to destigmatize subjects that are often taboo in the region, like melancholy, grief and shame.

Philosophy with a ballpoint pen

As a boy or girl Suowari failed to know irrespective of whether to be an artist, a poet or a dancer — so she determined to be all three. “By some means, I’ve been able to merge all these points jointly to form the Jacqueline Suowari knowledge,” she laughed.

“I explain myself as a visual artist who specializes generally with the ballpoint pen,” said Suowari. Her observe is a mixture of intricate drawings paired with daring Afro-urban painted things in poppy, major colors. These performs — usually up to eight toes tall — are accompanied by poetry and functionality artwork.

“With my drawings, I have this philosophy of layering — it is really just a way that I sample my strokes on every single other,” explained Suowari. “I like to appear at every single stroke as the human encounter. Just one practical experience, just one stroke — and the gathering, and layering, and slipping collectively of all the strokes generates the particular person and their character.”

Suowari works in good element on a macro scale. Credit rating: Courtesy of Jacqueline Suowari

Her mark-making course of action is painstaking, with most of her performs demanding months of meticulous drawing.

The electrical power of the pen

Suowari’s work is as motivational as it is aesthetically satisfying. Her huge creations share a concept of hope and empowerment their intention is to make it possible for Nigerians to embrace vulnerabilities — encouraging them to talk about issues, which includes mental health, that she states aren’t in widespread discourse in Nigerian culture.

“The Nigerian procedure sort of bullies you into form,” Suowari claimed, introducing that she’s striving to stimulate people today to be their authentic selves, whether or not that can take the sort of acknowledging their individual particular strife or becoming a member of large political action, these kinds of as the EndSARS motion.

A person of the items involved in her most current system of work is an image of a woman carrying a conventional Ankara wax print dress and loosely styled dreadlocks. “Just one of the things that was the agitation for the EndSARS motion was the stereotyping of folks primarily based on their appears,” reported Suowari. “In Nigeria, if a policeman should really come across a lady dressed like that in the night time, they would say she’s a prostitute.”

Suowari opened her new solo exhibition, "Now I Wear Myself", at RetroAfrica in Abuja in June.

Suowari opened her new solo exhibition, “Now I Use Myself”, at RetroAfrica in Abuja in June. Credit score: Courtesy of Jacqueline Suowari

Suowari explained that her broad portraits stand for the faceless, voiceless masses she wants to notify the stories of the minority and ostracized people today to give them strength.

“I imagine that everyone was created with a unique blueprint. It is really like a puzzle — you are meant to be a specific kind of way to match into the puzzle for superior issues to materialize,” she described. “We cannot make up this lovely photograph if everybody’s the exact.”

Art for the better superior

Suowari’s most current selection, “Now I Dress in Myself,” opened in Abuja on June 25. The exhibition will go on tour in Oct with the subsequent exhibiting in Lagos and additional dates to be confirmed.

Following a visitor look on Rodney Omeokachie’s “The Youthful God” podcast subsequent the start, Suowari claimed she was overcome with messages of many thanks for brazenly talking about topics that she feels are unnecessarily taboo in Nigeria.

“I think the artist is some kind of prophet,” she claimed. “Some kind of priestess, or pastor, or medical doctor that should really be equipped to use their art as a device to tell constructive alter in people’s minds.”

Suowari on a regular basis receives email messages from fans stating how her work has touched their life. “I believe for me that is the greatest achievement: getting in a position to use your art as a resource to improve people for the better superior,” she said. “To encourage men and women to be much better.”

Mary E. Alvarez

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