We are happy to welcome Smart Owie, renowned Nigerian artist and sculptor, who became an AR-Resident in January 2019. He is currently in safety at an undisclosed AR-Safe Haven Residency in Africa. Owie was forced to leave Nigeria after a series of shocking incidents, due to which Artists at Risk (AR) invited him to AR-Safe Haven Helsinki. In a highly unexpected turn of events, his visa was refused by the Finnish authorities, and AR found him an emergency residency in the region.
Smart Owie was born in Benin, Nigeria, a city renowned for its sculptural background, particularly in the fields of casting. Owie himself was fortunate to come from a family of wood carvers and he learned the skill from an early age. In 1998 he moved to Ebute-Metta, in Lagos where he later joined the Universal Studio of Art, working with prominent artists of the region. Following a completion of a National Diploma in General Arts at Yaba College of Technology in 2008 he set up his own private Woodcocks Studio at the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) Artists’ Village, situated in the National Theatre Complex in Lagos until it was demolished in 2016 due to political rivalry within the local art world, leaving Owie’s works destroyed. Protests following this demolition led to Smart being shot in the leg by Police and he has suffered ongoing harassment and threats of violence as a result of his criticism of authorities through his artwork.
Owie continues to make works using traditional woodworking methods while being critical of abuses of human rights. His period of residency will give him the opportunity to convey his working methods within an international context.
Smart Owie is an Artists-at-Risk (AR) Resident at AR-Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The AR-Network is curated by Perpetuum Mobile (PM) and is coordinated by the AR-Secretariat, co-funded by Kone Foundation. This residency is co-funded by the AR-Secretariat and Front Line Defenders.