Chief Nike, or Mama Nike, as she is popularly called, is an award-winning designer, artist, textile designer and a spectacular woman. She is internationally known in contemporary art circles.
She was brought up in her home town of Ogidi, in Kogi State, in North Central Nigeria, amidst the traditional weaving and dyeing as practised there. After she lost her mother at a tender age, she was introduced to the craft by her great-grandmother; from weaving to embroidery, to Adire, to painting, to patchwork.
PHOTO: Yoruba 'adire eleko' wrapper. Courtesy Powerhouse Museum Collection
She found that traditional methods of weaving and dyeing, which had been her original inspiration in Nigeria, she pioneered a global revival of this aspect of Nigerian culture. She became famous for her modern approach to traditional themes in her colourful batik and paintings. She has been established as a household name in textile design as a result of her unique approach of fusing traditional styles with modern techniques.
PHOTO: Nike Davies Okundaye | Africa on the Floor
She is known for her batik weaving and dyeing workshops. Over the past twenty years she has given workshops on traditional Nigerian textiles to audiences in the United States and Europe. Nike has more than 150 students in Europe and America.
PHOTO: Umbrella of our art. Courtesy Gallery of African Art
She is a philanthropist. She has trained over three thousand young Nigerians for free, offering free courses for young Nigerians to learn traditional arts and crafts, and she continues to help by funding many poor to establish their small businesses and art workshops in different parts of Nigeria.
PHOTO: Nike painting. 2008
She is on a mission to improve lives of disadvantaged women in Nigeria through art. She teaches the unique techniques of indigo cloth-dyeing (Adire) to rural women at her workshop in southwest Nigeria. By doing so, she's hoping to revive not just the centuries-old tradition, but the lives of these women as well. She believes it is critical for the women to the business of art as well as to learn how to manage their resources.
PHOTO: Feminine Power Series
She is the founder of Nike art gallery, the largest in West Africa. Nike Art Gallery has housed over 7000 art pieces. This www.nikeartcentres.com is her official website. She started in 1968 when she began selling her creations from her bedroom, which served as a makeshift gallery. Four decades later, Okundaye is the proud owner of the art centre, which attracts customers from around the world. She features the everyday Nigerian life in vivid, unforgettable colors in her work.
She was featured on CNN International's "Arican Voices" which highlights Africa's most engaging personalities, exploring their lives and passions.
Her works, displayed in major international exhibitions, are colourful creations that share the themes from her Yoruba culture with the rest of the world. They have won several accolades and are sold for thousands of dollars at international art auctions.
PHOTO: A Group of Friends, 2004 | Courtesy of the Gallery of African Art (GAFRA)
Nike's painting was permanently featured at The Smithsonian Museum as of 2012, and her work was also part of the collection of The Gallery of African Art and The British Library, in London.
Her biography is The Woman With The Artistic Brush: A Life History Of Yoruba Batik Artist Nike Davies. Written by Kim Marie Vaz, the book has a 4.4 average rating by Goodreeds and AbeBoks. The book traces her life history and illustrates the strategies developed by women to mitigate male rule.
PHOTO: The Woman With The Artistic Brush: A Life History Of Yoruba Batik Artist Nike Davies (Foremother Legacies) by Kim Marie Vaz
Mama Nike draws her spiritual and artistic inspiration from Nigeria's river goddess Osun who, she says, guides her work through dreams. She is extremely passionate about what she does. She has focused her attention solely on her homeland, even though she is successful internationally, working to bring awareness to her culture, empower women, and improve lives around her.
PHOTO: Fire of The Goddess – Osun River Goddess of Love: Honey in the Heart