Name: Dunnie Onasanya, artistically known as Dunnie The Artist
Location: Washington D.C. Area
Bio: Dunnie The Artist is a resilient first generation Nigerian American who has achieved many feats regardless of the times and changes throughout her life. As a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the historic Tuskegee University she obtained a dual degree in the areas of Business Administration and Sales/Marketing. She is currently devoting her time cultivating her artistry as painter and muralist. Her work is heavily influenced by her west African heritage and faith in God. She creates breathtaking abstract works, cultural masks, hamsas and other historic symbols with the use of of bright colors, metallic paints, gold leaf and jewels.
Outside of her artistry she is a mother to a darling 2 year old girl named ZION. She also serves as an event producer and marketing consultant with over 7 years of experience. She is a dynamic creative force for building environments for quality interactions, interface and exchange all by the grace of GOD.
Describe your experience as a current artist.
Yes! By God’s grace I am currently doing art full time in addition to being a full mom and full time producer. I created my first murals Fall of 2017 and I began painting on canvas January 2018. I always loved art as a child but it was never a career that I thought I would ever have the opportunity to persue.
What was your occupation/education prior to becoming an artist?
I am a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Tuskegee University where I obtained a dual degree in Business Administration and Sales and Marketing. I have over 7 years of experience in marketing and event production. My Art has been one of my biggest forms of therapy. I experienced a very traumatic and public break up at the very start of 2018 and I am now going through the divorce process. My Art is contributing in a major way to my healing and growth. I have been able to channel all of my energy into creating beauty and for that I am grateful.
What was your biggest challenge in pursuing art and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge honestly has been fully believing in myself and my God given talents. I battle with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy at times. I work to overcome these feelings by spending time in prayer and worship to God. I also making sure I take the time out for self care activities such as working out at the gym and pampering my self by going to get manicures and pedicures. I am gaining the understanding more and more that I cannot pour from an empty cup meaning that if I do not take care of myself it will impossible for me to be a good mother, artist and business person.
Describe your biggest milestone or project achieved since pursuing your art.
My biggest milestone so far has been exhibiting as the featured international artist for the 3rd Annual AfroChic Festival in Toronto, Canada headlined by Erykah Badu. This achievement is so important to me because even though I just started painting on canvas recently a Festival of this caliber loved my work enough to invite me to travel internationally to showcase my work. This also meant so much to me because it was the very first time I exhibited my canvas work publicly.
How does your personal style and identity translate into your artwork?
Both of my parents are from Nigeria. Even though I was born in the America, I fully embrace and celebrate my heritage, culture and faith in God. I love painting African masks and symbols. My freehand style and my use of metallics and jewels makes my art unique. Most of my creations incorporate all 3 of these elements. In fact, my favorite technique is using gold leaf. I really love the texture and luxury it adds to my art.
How do you maintain your mental health and inspiration?
I maintain my mental health through prayer, praise, and worship to God. I also attend church to maintain my spiritual grounding. Listening to AfroBeat always helps me get through creative blocks. I gain a tremendous amount of feel good energy from AfroBeat artists such as Di’ja, Adekunle Gold, WizKid, Olamide, and Yemi Alade.
What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP interested in furthering their art goals?
Try to block out time every day to paint and create even if its for a short period. One of my Art mentors said it is very essential to constantly create is should become apart of your lifestyle as an artist. Also, collaboration is key. True success is never attained independently so be sure to align yourself with other Artists and brands who believe in your work.
What is next for you?
I will have my first Pop Up at the Spice Suite in D.C. on 9/19 I will be selling original works and also offering on site consultations for custom canvases and murals.
What does being a "black girl who paints" means to you?
To me it means owning my magic as a black girl and sharing it with the world through my art unapologetically.