Artist Uzo Njoku’s work has two themes: celebrating black heritage and celebrating black women. A student at the University of Virginia, this Lagos-born studio artist, Njoku, is out with a coloring book aimed at inspiring and empowering the voices of young women of color.
Each illustration in Njoku’s Blue Stocking Society was created to present positive representations of WOC for the younger generation to enjoy and explore their creativity within.
Although the Blue Stocking Society was self-published, Njoku still went on to sell 1,000 copies of the books first run. “We are living in a time that’s ripe with the debate over what it means to be either a female or a woman of color,” says Njoku. And I have a feeling Blue Stocking Society could play a positive role in how young girls have that debate in the future.
L.A. AFRICAN: How did you get started with art? What convinced you that art was for you?
UZO: I first started with just pretty simple paintings to decorate my apartment with. I would go to Michaels and get their cheap canvases with craft paints. I laugh now to thinking about those days. I posted them on my social media and people loved them. But I felt I could do better so I practiced more by taking $20 commissions and creating 16x20 paintings.
Taking art classes at UVA still changed my experience level. I learned how to have better hand eye coordination, how to compose better works, build better canvases, and so much more. Then I would read articles of other contemporary artists and I have been hooked since. As long as I am doing something creative, I am happy.
L.A. AFRICAN: Seeing as your book is about women who inspire, who has been the most influential female figure in your life? Why?
UZO: Njideka Akunyili Crosby is the most influential women in my life currently.
I have been following her for two years now and even memorized her resume. She came to school originally pre-med and switched to studio art. Which is an extremely difficult thing to do coming from a traditional Nigerian home—something I completely relate to. Her works are absolutely amazing. I don’t use her style as reference for my works, but the woman she has become is what motivates me.
L.A. AFRICAN: Is there any advice that you would like to lend to individuals looking to get into your industry or just in general?
UZO: You have to do way more than just paint for class. Create a website – In this day and age, this is your online portfolio and the best way to market your work. Professionally photograph your best works, it makes a difference. And there is so much funding in the Arts and opportunities to expand after school like Local or International Residency Programs. Google is your best friend.