Nigerian artist Tunde Afolayan Famous to paint live at Art Bash

Alexander McCall

Nigerian artist Tunde Afolayan Famous has made Boone his home, and now he’s sharing his talent with Appalachian State University students through the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.

Famous’ art is inspired by nature, and his use of vibrant colors symbolizes positive energy, which Nigerian culture says lies in all things, he said.

Famous came to the United States in the 1980s for graduate school as part of an exchange program funded by the Nigerian government intended to incorporate elements of the American school system to the educational culture of Nigeria. 

While at the University of Missouri, Famous noticed his classmates treating his art and style with curiosity. He realized how little of African art history is actually incorporated into American art curriculum, even at the graduate level.

Following his time in school, Famous moved back to Nigeria briefly before returning to America when his professional focus turned to educating others about African themes and influence on modern art, in everything from the roots of cubism and Picasso’s work to understanding cultural appropriation.

Famous moved to North Carolina in 2006 to establish himself as a full-time studio artist. 

In recent years, Famous has led art education programs with public schools in hopes to “enhance learning through the cultural environment,” he said. Famous incorporates classroom themes and relevant history into group and individual research with students, coming together to create a single work of art building off of those themes. 

“Creativity helps students actually retain concepts, and there are different ways to get to the same destination,” Famous said.

Famous and his wife moved to Boone in 2010, and his recent High County Series shows the spirit of nature and spirit that lies in all things, especially in the changing weather of the High Country.

Famous has begun teaching student-only workshops of increasing popularity at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts. 

This year, weekly attendance of his Tuesdays at the Turchin painting lessons have grown from three students in the first class and 15 the next to the maximum capacity of 59 the third week. The focus of one class was changed to finger-painting on the spot in response to the unexpected number of attendees. 

“Everyone went along, but I just didn’t have that many brushes,” Famous said.

Famous sees live painting as an interactive performance. 

“It is creating something for others to see, and for me it’s almost therapy,” Famous said.

Famous will paint live Thursday at the Turchin Center Art Bash, and attendees will have a chance to win one of Famous’ finished pieces. 

Art Bash runs from 7-9 p.m. Thursday in the Turchin Center. Admission is free for students.

STORY: LOVEY COOPER, Senior A&E Reporter