Women in Academia: Peju Layiwola

Peju Layiwola is a Nigerian visual artist and art historian who creates work in a range of media and genres. She is referred to as a “21st Century Avant-Garde” in the Phaidon Press book Art Cities of the Future.

Her works can be found in the collections of Microsoft Lagos, Yemisi Shyllon Museum, Pan Atlantic, Lagos, and homes of private collectors like JP and Ebun Clark and the Obi of Onitsha.

She is currently a Professor of Art and Art history at the University of Lagos and has been dubbed a “multitalented artist.”

Layiwola, who was given the name Adepeju Olowu, is the daughter of Babatunde Olatokunbo Olowu and Princess Elizabeth (née Akenzua) Olowu.

Business tycoon and founder of the first cinema and printing press in Benin and the Delta region of the former Midwestern state was her paternal grandpa.

Layiwola has continued the artistic legacy started by her mother, Princess Elizabeth Olowu, the first woman to cast bronze in Nigeria. Princess Elizabeth Olowu attained this status by persevering in a highly patriarchal society.

Her professional practice is inspired by her dual Yoruba and Edo heritage.

The University of Benin awarded Layiwola a BA in Metal Design in 1988, while the University of Ibadan in Nigeria awarded her an MA and PhD in Visual Arts in 2004.

The Women and Youth Art Foundation, an organization dedicated to empowering women, young girls, and youth through the arts, was founded by her. She has also participated in art jury panels.

Having started out working with metal, Layiwola is now interested in a wide range of mediums that deal with history, memory, and cultural appropriation.

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