Q&A: Toyin Odutola on Drawing, Chinese Art, and What It Really Means to Have a Big Head

The portrait artist readies for a group show at the Studio Museum in Harlem

China is a ways away—you’re in Alabama right now. What’s the art scene like there?
It’s very crafty. It’s interesting. I’m actually right next to a collective called Lowe Mill, and they own studios that you rent out, and they’re pretty nice. There are a lot of people here that have gallery representation in New York. It’s super-cheap to live here, and you just go to New York when you have to work—that’s your job. I’ve always thought I was going to move to New York at some point—it’s like what you do. But right now, with student loans and everything, it’s not really feasible—the dream is not practical.

Odutola's Bored, Doe-Eyed and Waiting.
Courtesy of Toyin Odutola and Jack Shainman Gallery, NY
Odutola's Bored, Doe-Eyed and Waiting.
Toyin Odutola
Courtesy the artist and Studio Museum or Harlem
Toyin Odutola


November 11 to March 10
The Studio Museum in Harlem
144 West 125th Street
212-864-4500, studiomuseum.org

What’s next?
There are a lot of group shows all over the States. They’re all kind of happening. It’s exciting. I’m kind of shocked that people want me in their museums and galleries. I always look at my work and think, this is so weird—people are gonna think my drawings are aliens. My brother always walks in and says, “Why do you draw me so weird?” Sorry, it’s kind of what I like.

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