Artist Interview with Timothy Orikri


Timothy UfuomaEfe Orikri is a freelance artist whose style varies from semi-realism to abstract paintings. Although currently living in Michigan, he was born in the Delta State southern Nigeria. As his artistic talents emerged, he chose to pursue his passion, leaving behind his father’s wish for him to follow in his footstep to become a Baptist minister.

In 1991, he graduated from Delta State University Abraka in southern Nigeria with a B.A. (Ed) in Fine Art.  His art, which continually evolves, is a synthesis of African, European and American influences. As with many of today’s African artist, he bridges the gap between the ancient and modern while never forgetting his roots. This juxtaposition is evident in many of his works, such as, “Native Groove I and II,” influenced by his early years in Nigeria, to “Dancer’s Secret,” a painting of teenage girls in a classic ballet class.

Since arriving in the United States in 1995, his work has been widely exhibited in several prominent museums, colleges, churches, and public buildings. Some of which are: the St. Louis Science Center, Forest Park Community College, St. Louis, MO; the Robert Powell-Gallery and Education Center, St. Louis, MO; the State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO; the Bruce Watkins Cultural Center, Kansas City, MO; the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, AL; Chesterfield Arts Organization, Chesterfield, MO; Harris Stowe University, St. Louis, MO; and the Museum of African American History, Detroit, MI.


Orikri was a featured artist in 1997 at the St. Louis Science Center's traveling exhibition entitled "AFRICA: One Continent, Many Worlds," sponsored by Time Magazine and Ford Motor Company. During this three month exhibit, Orikri created a one-of-a-kind multi-media mural of an African marketplace that measured 7 feet by 24 feet.

By promoting unity through art, Orikri has brought together children of diverse backgrounds for several different projects, such as the Pyramid of Peace Project, Building a City of Love Project, and Compassion through Art. This effort to promote open communication and build self-esteem has far-reaching outcomes. The children learn they each have their own unique talents that can be used to help not only themselves, but also, others, and society in general.

Several of Timothy Orikri's works are on permanent display at various places including: the new H.Y.P.E. Teen Center in the Detroit Main Library, MI; St. Louis Science Center, MO; The Magic House-Children Museum, St. Louis, MO; Worldways Children's Museum, Chesterfield, MO; Pleasant Green Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO; Antioch Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO; and St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, St. Louis, MO.

His paintings are sought after by collectors throughout the world. Currently some of his works are available at the Pierre Paul ArtGallery, Ann Arbor, MI and The Little Art Gallery, Raleigh, NC. He is one of thirty-three artists chosen to participate in the 2010 – 2011 Juried Exhibitions Series for the Town of Chapel Hill, NC. Beginning in December 2010, his work will be exhibited for three month at the Town Hall.


Orikri's art is profound, expressive, and as with any living artist continually expanding. He adds significantly to the growth, relevance and visibility of contemporary world art, as well as enriches society with his contributions. Beyond his brilliant use of colors and forms, lie the subtleties that will cause you to linger and absorb what you see and feel.

The most obvious attributes of his work are the use of strong, bold colors, touches of light and shadows, as well as his multi-media textured canvas. An overall reliance on lines and forms gives his work its distinctive nature.

In his own words, “As an artist, I am constantly searching for diverse formats in order to create imaginative, thought-provoking pieces. This search has enabled me to create unique artworks relevant to traditional and modern trends.”

MP:  Please tell us a little about your self and the art you create.

I am a mixed media artist whose style varies from semi-realism to abstract paintings. Although currently living in Michigan, I  was born in the Delta State southern Nigeria. As my artistic talents developed, I  chose to pursue my passion, leaving behind my father’s wish to follow in his footstep to become a Baptist minister.

In 1991, I graduated from Delta State University Abraka in southern Nigeria with a B.A. (Ed) in Fine Art.

My art, which continually evolves, I will say, is a synthesis of African, European and American influences. As with many of today’s African artist, I try to  bridge the gap between the ancient and modern while never forgetting my roots.


I tend to focus primarily on the use of multimedia textured canvases, as well as the use of vibrant colors. My quest for textures are derived from a careful selection of porous and light weight items which includes, dried fruits, seeds, straws, button, burlap, tree bark, sand, sawdust, tooth picks, clothes pins, corrugated paper, match sticks, Popsicle sticks, seeds paper-machie,  strings, feathers, etc I also paint on vinyl and hand woven canvases.

My paintings reveals my innermost thoughts, project my deepest passion, as well as provides an opportunity to make certain statements that will better our world… "… if I could I would put on canvas a painting of a better world filled with bliss where we all could experience peace and live in harmony, breathe on it and bring it into existence…"


MP:  Do you work on multiply pieces at the same time?

Yes I do, in order to effectively manage my time, as well as have a  continuous spread of expressive-creative flow. Also I tend to work on several pieces in order to stretch the expansiveness of my mind creatively. Its worth to know that in-spite of the confine of this works being created in the same time frame, they all have their own dynamics, for some it might seem a tough act to balance, well I have been able to  somewhat master this work ethics through the years. 

MP:  What are two art supplies you don't think you could live without and why?

The two art materials I won't be able to live without are paints and acrylic gel medium. The reason is that they are the most vital material that are used in my work. The acrylic  gel  medium serves as glue for the mixed media items that are incorporate in my works, and color is  an in dispensable component for my painting.


MP:  Do you set goals for yourself and are they daily, weekly, etc?

Yes,  I set yearly goals that are spread-out throughout an 11and a half months period, I do strive to rigidly follow it . This discipline has helped me in so many ways to accomplish much.
MP:  As an artist we have many roles; which do you find to be the most rewarding and which the most challenging for you?

One of the most rewarding experiences I have had being an artist is the opportunity to inspire, enrich, and uplift people through my work.

My greatest challenge is similar to that which some artist face, and that is being unable to fully sustain my career solely through my work.


MP:  How did you approach your first gallery?

I schedule a meeting  with the gallery owner, took six painting that best  represent my work. I just believe in the old fashion way of personal contact and live presentation of the works, which gave a better impact.
MP:  Do you have any advice for those just starting out or that would like to take their work to another level?

My advice will be
(i). Explore, delve into your work learn as much as you can,
(ii). Experiment on new ways and technique,
(iii). Push and challenge your limits, but most especially
(iv). Strive to be an original, find your own voice,  master your own creative vocabulary, and remember that, your genius will not unfold if you don't find your niche. 


MP:  Is there anything you would like the art world to know about you that we did not cover in our interview?

In April this year, 36 hours of mixed media painting session was recorded by Alex Peterson Company for a proposed mixed media instructional DVD that will be published and be on sale in late fall. This will be a second edition of mixed media instructional DVD of mine that has being published.  


All images courtesy of Timothy Orikri.  Click to view details in artwork.

Visit Tim at the following locations:

Timothy Orikri, Facebook, Zazzle & Imagekind

Tim, thanks for sharing your amazing artwork and life as an artist with our readers.


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This article is courtesy of the MMCA Marketplace Blog, a place to connect, promote, inspire and share resources to help others live a creative life in their artful journey!  The MMCA Marketplace Blog is a subsidiary of Debbie Overton Designs LLC.


  • Faye - July 28, 2010 - 1:12 pm

    Timothy’s work has to be experienced in person to feel all the rich colors and textures.

  • Debbie Overton - July 29, 2010 - 8:23 am

    Faye, thank you for stopping by. After working with him on the interview and getting to see the details in his work I can only imagine how grand it must be in person. I hope on one of my husbands business trips to NC I can take time to visit his works on display.

  • alicia - August 8, 2010 - 4:59 pm

    thank you so much — this is a fantastic article. timothy’s art is amazing, vibrant and full of wonderful rich color — i LOVE it!

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