Fine Art Focus: Odili Donald Odita

by Grace Bonney

This week, we finally got a solid few days of snow, ice, rain and sub-zero temperatures. As much as I missed and hoped for snow this season, I immediately regretted that wish and found myself longing for warmer (and sunnier) days. Whenever I get in that mode I find myself looking for artwork and inspiration that is full of bright, saturated color. The paintings of Odili Donald Odita have come to my rescue, and I’ve found myself completely and totally immersed in his work.

Born in Nigeria and raised in the United States, Odili creates vivid, geometric patterns that explore the intersection of disparate cultures. He says, “No matter the discord, I believe through art there is a way to weave the different parts into an existent whole, where metaphorically, the notion of a common humanity can be understood as real.” Odili’s take on these “common humanities” and his incredible way with color and pattern have had me transfixed all week, and I’m so excited to share more about his work here today. Read on to learn more about Odili and his paintings. xo, grace

Artist: Odili Donald Odita
About: Odili was born in 1966 in Enugu, Nigeria. He now lives and works in Philadelphia, PA where he is an Associate Professor of Painting at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Odili received his MFA from Bennington College in Vermont and his BFA (with Distinction) from Ohio State University.
Work: Odili is known for his bold, geometric paintings that call to mind the color palette of his native Nigeria. He describes his work as, “[continuing] to explore [a] metaphoric ability to address the human condition through pattern, structure and design, as well as for its possibility to trigger memory. The colors I use are personal: they reflect the collection of visions from my travels locally and globally.”
More: You can read more about Odili’s work here, here, here and here (podcast).

All artwork (c) Odili Donald Odita. Images via odilidonaldodita.com and skowheganart.org


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  • You know, I’ve just looked at three articles here (this is the third), and I just wanted to note that I recently quit reading a different blog because all the staff writers are of the same ethnic group and (apparent) social class, and they disproportionately focus on people of the same ethnic group.

    It is delightful that you have just showcased three cases in which we see designers and artists–because they are designers and artists–and that they happen not to all be (apparently–it’s hard to tell from photographs) non-Hispanic European Americans.

    Designers and artists come in all shades of the rainbow–there are lots and lots of good and great ones who are non-Hispanic European Americans, but not all are. It is delightful to see a blog which clearly focuses on quality work and does not worry with ethnicity–because, as we see, this means that there will be natural diversity. Design and art are not things that disproportionately are evident in one ethnic group.

    So, anyway, thank you for your approach to choosing subjects. As you are looking at well-trained designers and gifted artists, there will never been the kind of disproportionately single-ethnicity that I found in that other blog which I am determined to now avoid.

    Thank you for sharing this artist’s delightful work.

  • Yeah Odili! So great to stumble upon your work on DS!

    Ive been a huge fan of DS for years, like since the very beginning (also grew up in Virginia Beach!), and I am so happy to finally see fine artists featured within the larger design conversation. :)