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While growing up, watching her mother draw and paint was one of Fiyin’s biggest inspirations to take a dive into the world of art. Fiyin Koko is a figurative artist and illustrator, an avid lover of everything art, and a breast cancer navigator who never shies away from a conversation to learn more from people and her environment.
Being surrounded by women, older or younger, having relatable conversations with them, and hearing the “woman experience” from all angles. This provided Fiyin the compass with which she navigates creating her pieces that largely reflects womanism.
By fusing her art with the womanist theory, Fiyin seeks to celebrate the power that’s inherent in the black woman’s identity. She explores conversations revolving around their sexuality, social class, diversity, nudity, culture, etc.
Through her art, Fiyin wants her audience to be imparted with harmony and deepening fondness mostly for and of black women. Her work preaches unburdening of average black women who, in art, are almost always portrayed as burdened with issues such as childbirth, motherhood; the stereotypical “strong woman” narrative that basically romanticizes visual representation of women as strong.
Using oil and acrylic paints, watercolors, gouache, the palette knife technique, mix media, etc, for paintings done on canvas, and Procreate alongside Photoshop for digital ones, is how Fiyin creates her works.
There are about six guiding pillars in the artist’s work. First of all, it is inspired by womanism, conversation, body positivity, movement, love, and sustainability. Fiyin believes that conversation is downplayed seeing that it makes up a large part of who people are; what they talk about and how they talk about it, hand gestures, facial expressions, etc. Movement inspires her a great deal as she is currently exploring dance and how to fuse them in her works. Sustainability is an experimental phase for the artist which she plans to create pieces that are not just aesthetically appealing but also meaningful enough to collect.
Naturally, her art has been largely influenced first by her mother, then other artists like Yayoi Kusama whose style inspired her to try out other bold colors in her works, and Peju Alatise.
Creating commissioned work for collectors is a very carefully thought out process for Fiyin. This brought about the need for her to create smaller digital paintings to enable younger people like herself to collect and own valuable art. These digital works are usually hand-finished prints so that each work feels peculiar to whoever collects it at the time.
Womanism plays a huge role in her life and extends to her art, Issues pertaining to black women, one of which is breast cancer. Her mother being a breast cancer survivor pushed her to have these necessary conversations through her art and outside the art scene by taking on the responsibilities of being a breast cancer navigator. This birthed Lakeboone Cancercare and Comfort, an NGO co-founded by Fiyin and her mother to spread breast cancer awareness for early detection, offering care and support for those affiliated during and after.
Even though this is still in the exploration phase, from time to time Fiyin does line art, drawing pictures of breasts in an attempt to create awareness of the disease. As uncomfortable as people who come across these drawings are with them, Fiyin hopes that they see them beyond drawing sexualizing the female body, rather she hopes they see them as opening up the conversation for people affected by the disease. she hopes it makes people comfortable enough to speak up about what they are passing through.
Finally, Fiyin believes that never putting a stop to exploring new things and never limiting oneself is important in the mindset of an artist.