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How Ghanaian art writer, Sharon Obuobi, plans to change conversations about African art

October 19, 2018 at 06:00 pm | Art Attack

Nduta Waweru

Nduta Waweru | Contributor

October 19, 2018 at 06:00 pm | Art Attack

Before she started her show, In Studio with Sharon Obuobi, Ghanaian-born art writer and innovator, Sharon Obuobi worked as a founding member of the Modern & Contemporary African Art business at Sotheby’s. Her passion for art started long before all these.

“I was born into a family of artists, my father is an artist along with his siblings. We always had music playing at home and in the car. So I was raised with creativity around me, but I didn’t consider pursuing art as a career path until I started to discover conceptual films online,” she says.

She started chronicling these discoveries on a blog called Auburn Butterfly, turning her curiosity in art into a passion that took her to the Studio Museum in Harlem, Creative Time in New York, Art Twenty One in Lagos, Alison Milne in Toronto, and most recently Sotheby’s.

At Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary African Art department, she contributed to providing a platform for Africans on the continent and diaspora to offer their work.

“It was very important to set up the Modern & Contemporary African Art department at Sotheby’s to create a dedicated platform for offering the works of artists from Africa and the diaspora. In the art market, auctions are an important part of the value chain so they can be useful in raising the profile of artists. As the auction market for the works of artists from Africa and the diaspora is still very small and only makes up about 1% of the global market, we needed to contribute to the growth of this segment,” she says.

According to Sharon, the increasing attention on art from Africa over the years has been due to a few factors, including changes in buying habits of art collectors, the growth in exhibition of artists from Africa in museums and galleries, and the emergence of new art fairs and auctions.

“We also have seen more artists being exhibited in international platforms like various biennials and Documenta. This has been a steady development since the 1980s, so it’s not at all been a sudden change.”

In Studio with Sharon Obuobi, is stimulating open-minded conversations and challenging listeners to view the world in new ways. The show focuses on art makers, curators and influencers who inspire thoughtful perspectives about the world.

“I used the word ‘studio’ as a broad term referring to the artist working space, and the mental space for making and creating. In each episode, I aim to stimulate open-minded conversation, and challenge listeners to see the world in new ways,” Obuobi says, adding that there is a lot to know and understand about the art communities in Africa, which are rich and diverse.

“I would highlight the importance of not having a single story. We should aim to not over-generalize but seek to highlight the wide-ranging histories of art and the people involved,” she says as advice to upcoming artists, curators and anyone interested in understanding the continent’s art scene.

In Studio with Sharon Obuobi airs every week on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, and Google Podcasts.

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