Akwi Nji is an interdiscplinary artist creating in visual art, words, and voice. She was a 2016 Iowa Arts Council Fellow and has created art with and for communities across the country and in the state of Iowa including Ames, Decorah, Perry, Marshalltown, Waterloo, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines. In addition to numerous group exhibitions, Akwi's solo exhibitions include Homebound, The Remoir Project, and Enuf.
Her work explores the intersectionality of gender, race, motherhood, and associations with spiritual and geographic home. She is the creator of Threshold Gallery's In Living Color, and alternative arts experience which recently showcased 14 Iowa-base Black artists and led to neatly $10,000 invested in those artists through the event. She is the creator of The Remoir Project, a nationwide audio and visual storytelling arts initiative; is an MFA candidate at the Chicago's School of the Art Institue; is currently creating a multimedia project titled correspondence which is generously funded by the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts; and serves as an arts advocate on the boards of Brucemore and the Iowa Arts Council.
Enuf is an audio-visual exhibition that creates dialogue between my visual art and my literary art in audio form. Enuf examines various contexts of belonging associated with identity, culture, spirituality, power, and concepts of home.
There are a lot of things I could say about this body of work. When I asked my daughters what I should write, my younger daughter asked, "Well, why did you make it?" I told her I wanted to have fun. She encouraged me to "just say that".
I wanted to have fun.
I wanted to have fun and I also wanted to find my way by the sound of my own voice. I wanted to voice things that are mine, but not mine alone. That, by voicing them, others could see themselves, too. I wanted to reclaim freedom and I wanted to create a body of work that would "read" as laced with movement and joy. I've drawn inspiration, in recent years, from Ntozake Shange's for colored girls who have considered suicide when rainbow is enuf. It's a text that has significant meaning to me as a woman and artist. With this exhibition, I'm celebrating diversity, encouraging joy, embracing simplicity, making my own rainbow. And inviting others to do the same.
"In the mists and fog of life find your way to the rainbow by the sound of your own voice." Ntozake Shange, July 2010
This exhibition is a component of a larger body of work titled correspondence, generously supported by the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, which explores the power of written correspondences to impact identity and our relationship to one another, culture, feelings of belonging, and our sense of home.