"For me authenticity is being truthful, and just allowing yourself to be vulnerable."
"I express myself through fashion by just letting it flow and just walking into my closet and kind of treating it like a palette and just wearing what I feel and grabbing pieces that I feel work for me instinctively at that moment."
Dawn Okoro is a figurative painter who uses bright and bold saturated colors and as she has in her most recent exhibition, Punk Noir, captured the spirit and presence of creative people in her community who live with a kind of punk attitude. She started out at a young age being good at art but ended up studying psychology and law for many years and took a circuitous path to becoming the artist she always wanted to be. Realizing that life is short and that she had been repressing and muting an important part of her true self she began two years ago to paint more seriously, partly inspired by her life long love of fashion and fashion photography. Many of her previous series of work have addressed issues such as intersectionality, the objectification of women, and how black women are portrayed in media. Dawn puts her all into her artwork and when the roller coaster of emotions and challenges meets the deadline, she finds herself fulfilled and facing a powerful and beautiful collection of portraits. And she takes you along with her on the journey of her work and life with her regular social media posts, which she uses to foster connections with fans, curators, collectors, and other artists. In the future she aspires to explore her Nigerian heritage more deeply and find a way to create her own fashion in addition to her portraits.
Punk Noir is such a fantastic exhibition and after I saw it I knew I had to interview Dawn. She is such a delightful person and really has a great work ethic and a lot of integrity in what she is trying to create along with the positive effects it could have. Please enjoy our conversation and be sure to get over to the Carver Museum before July 21st to see for yourself.
PUNK NOIR: DAWN OKORO
Exhibited from March 8, 2018 to July 21, 2018.
"A selections of monumental works that explore Afro-punk creative expression.
Featuring portaits of black musicians, filmmakers, photogaphers and other creatives -- Punk Noir revels in the divine feminine and masculine energy in her subjects. Through color, pose, and clothing, Okoro conveys a sense of grit, glamor, and grace. This is reincorced by her gestural use of copper to obscure the body and alludes to issues of erasure, self-agency, and resistance. Indeed, Punk Noir offers an alternative to life lived in a black body on stark white canvas. For Okoro, punk has always been black."
The George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center
1165 Angelina St, Austin, TX 78702
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Intro music generously provided by Stan Killian