Òlàjú is an international non-profit organization conceived in Nigeria and established in Texas, USA. We focus on raising awareness of critical issues concerning the African continent through the use of contemporary art. By promoting the work of artists and art professionals from Africa and its Diaspora, our goal is to engage audiences with original programming designed to educate, entertain, and enlighten.
The idea of Òlàjú Art Group was conceived by Obafemi Ogunleye in 2013 while he was serving in the Nigerian National Youth Service Corps. His personal mission, during this time, was to educate himself on his families Nigerian heritage through the lens of artists, galleries, and museums. After attending many studio visits and museum programs, he began to see, first-hand, the power of art as a tool for cultural education. As a result of this experience, he embarked on establishing a platform to educate wider audiences with premium cultural content on an international level.
Òlàjú Art Group: The Foundational Years (2015-2020)
In 2015, upon Obafemi’s return to the United States from Nigeria, Òlàjú Art Group was formally registered as a non-profit organization in the State of Texas. The organization originally began with a focus on curating works from African artists to be provided as traveling exhibitions for cultural and educational purposes. The first major exhibition presented by the organization was Perspectives from Within (2016), installed at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, TX and featured photographs from Juliana Kasumu, Temi Coker, and Logor Oluwamuyiwa.
In addition to exhibitions, our flagship program has been the African Market Festival, which is a one-day celebration of contemporary African arts and culture that takes place annually in San Antonio, TX. Through this festival, Juliana Kasumu returned to work with Òlàjú, not as an artist but, as a creative director and helped to shape the foundation of the program.
Òlàjú: Rebranded (2020-Present)
In 2020, Òlàjú Art Group rebranded as Òlàjú. At this time, Juliana joined officially as a Co-Founder and Creative Director to support the organization’s mission. The 2020 rebranding initiative positioned Òlàjú to strengthen our programming in areas that can better increase community impact, specifically exhibitions and publications. Together, the two founders work to oversee an annual program of creative operations.
Over the years we have partnered with a host of cultural, community, and education based organizations that are both local and global. Some of our past partners include: The University of Texas at San Antonio, St. Mary’s University, DreamWeek SA, Musical Bridges Around the World, the San Antonio Public Library, Brick at Blue Star Arts Complex. As a result of our strategic partnerships, we have been able to grow and deliver our programs to a growing audience.