We had the good fortune of connecting with Ugo Agoruah and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ugo, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe anyone that chooses to take the road less traveled and center their lives within the creative field is a risk taker. To put your livelihood on the line and bare your soul with your art takes a lot of courage. I commend anyone taking a step in that direction. Personally, from the beginning, deciding to change the course of my life from a medical profession, to that of an artist, took deep inner work, which included a lot of pensive nights and fighting self-doubt. Fast forward to my 6th year of walking in my purpose, I decided to leave the U.S. to spend time in Nigeria in the middle of a pandemic, something that most people advised me against. But I didn’t listen to the naysayers. I followed what my heart told me and travelled, opening up all new possibilities for me. After a couple months there, I was guided to veteran artist, illustrator, and designer, Lemi Ghariokwu, most renowned for creating most of the cover art for Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti. He mentored me and gave me the privilege to fellowship in his personal studio for over 7 months. Under his tutelage I was able to put together my first solo exhibition abroad, which I dubbed Finding Forever. For the risks that have me out of my comfort zone, I start smaller projects that help build the skills necessary to get me closer to where I want to be to feel more comfortable taking those risk. The start of those projects can be seen on my youtube page under my “Transformation of Man” playlist.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What can I say about my art? Well if there’s one thing I know is that it doesn’t stay the same. My practice has grown, jumped through styles, and have expanded in my use of different skill sets. My art is continually evolving as I grow and expand my sense of self. Rest and reprieve is an important part of my process. I curate my experiences by leaving notes and planting seeds for me to pick the fruit of when the time comes. I feel myself and my art are multidimensional and unbounded by time, as I see myself collaborating with my selves from different timelines and mental spaces. We come together to curate a narrative that sends a message to our audience that they can feel. My art is a means of introspection, self-discovery, & an expression of veneration for what I consider the divine aesthetic, the Good, the True, & the Beautiful.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m pretty much a homebody, but when I do go out, Gallery 992 is a personal staple, especially on wednesdays when StillLife Sessions figure studies take over. Session running artists, Ron Smith, Thom Bess, & Alan Grimes have made that place feel like home to me.
The ArtsXchange is one of my favorite places to be. I love the sense of community I get there. There’s also a sense of tranquility I feel when I’m in one of their studios or in their very own Jack Sinclair Gallery. Theres always love being shown.
Peters Street Stations always has good vibes, from open mic jam sessions, to art exhibitions. The owner, Miya Bailey is so personable and down to Earth. He gives off great energy.
& I found the Goat Farm a great place to meet other creatives in a space that I felt nature was alive in.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Of course a big shoutout to Lemi Ghariokwu for putting me under his wing after just one meeting with me and opening up his world to me. And I can never for forget the kindness of Rayfield Lewis of SugaCane Syrup Ent. for believing in my work ethic and giving studio space for me to create in before my trip to Nigeria.
As well as my light brother, and fellow artist, Markeidric Walker for fellowship in his studio and pushing me to go further in my quest to master my artistic practice, raising my standard and my eye for fine art.
I can’t forget the love and support of my parents and close family and friends who believe in my abilities, sometimes even before I did.
Lastly my professors at Kennesaw State University School of Art & Design for helping cultivate my artistry.
Yemi Black, Rita Harper, Ugo Agoruah