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Artist Mama Nike: ‘I Found a Way to Make Us Women Powerful, by Being Able to Make Money’

Mama Nike, otherwise known as Chief Oyenike Monica Davies-Okundaye, is a dynamic artist and activist, who has elevated the profile of textile craft to that of artwork.  In the process, she has also taught thousands of other women, enabling them to create livelihoods for themselves. Davies-Okundaye, 71, is a superstar in her native Nigeria, an artist-cum-activist who has not only ensured the future of the traditional adire textile (an indigo-dyed cloth made traditionally by Yoruba women) but transformed the lives of thousands of women by teaching them the process. This October, kó, a gallery based in Lagos, is bringing her work to Frieze Masters, continuing the trend of textiles, such as quilts by the African-American community in Gee’s Bend, taking their place as artworks. Davies-Okundaye’s work will include batik, patchwork and embroidery. “It is now being recognised as art, not craft,” says Kavita Chellaram, the gallery’s founder. Though really, it is both.