Episode 24 · April 14th, 2018 · 1 hr 22 mins

About this Episode

"People they are the cloth that protect me, that cover me. Without them, I’m nothing, I can't do anything. So they take me to this level. They should not leave me here. They should continue. Be behind me. Be forward. Be at the back. Be at the side. And I will also do my best and continue to be there and be contributing to this world we are living."

Olaniyi Rasheed Akindiya is most well known by the name AKIRASH. He is a unique interdisciplinary artist who has few boundaries when it comes to what can best be used to tell the story he wants to share. Painting, sculpture, clothing and textiles, paper, elaborate installations, voice and music, and performance are all enlisted to create moments and places, with people being the most important piece. His work attempts to address serious and thought provoking issues but is often done with humor as a way to educate and communicate truths.

It was not until he thought his career as a pharmacist was set and he was a role model to his family and community that he found his true calling. He chose to start over and study art, a tough choice that lost him the support of a lot of his family for quite some time. But he loves challenges and hard work and after many years was able to prove to himself and his family in Nigeria that it was a worthwhile pursuit and now he is reaping many blessings from that choice. And his study and work as a scientist still plays a part in the adding and subtracting and experimentation that is involved in creating new works.

How do you create an artwork or a performance that will stop someone in their tracks and make them forget where they are for a memorable moment? Engaging and getting the audience involved is important, as is creating a discussion. So is collaboration which allows anyone to be a part of the creation, inspiring them to be much more connected to the work and its life and fate. By approaching art in a humble way and by traveling and exposing himself to different places and ways of doing things all over the world he developed his style and motivation to be a part of making the world a better place to live for everyone. If we find ourselves in a privileged position we can use that to help others.

When I think about Akirash and especially when I see him I get the biggest smile on my face. There is a lot of joy in him that is infectious. He also has a lot of life experience and wisdom that I was excited to talk with him about. This was a great interview for me and those of us who are in Austin are fortunate to have such an artist in our midst. He is someone who enjoys challenging himself and the rest of us to be better and make a difference. His example inspires me to explore my limits, ask questions, and not play it so safe all of the time.

Some of the subjects we discuss:

Origin of his name
Introduction to his work
Beginnings in Nigeria
His parents & family
Job as pharmacist
Discovering art school
Quitting job to pursue art
Figuring out art/being humble
Winning award/Parents accepting
Hard work and blessings
Honesty and criticism
Asking yourself questions
Powerful memorable moments
Challenges and failure
Working like a scientist
Shifting between works
Performance origin/reason
Issues and activism
Countries with petroleum
Privilege & responsibility
Fusebox performance
Creating discussion
Masks we wear
Future plans

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