Skip to main content
Kemi Yemi-Ese

I Sabi: The Artist's exploration of identity through West African Iconography

Kemi Yemi-Ese

scheduleThursday, February 2, 2023 - Sunday, April 30, 2023
placeCentral Library - 710 W. César Chávez St.
Living Room (6th Floor)

About the Exhibit

Artist Talk: Saturday, February 18, 1:30 – 2:30 PM | Central Library, Demo Area

Kemi Yemi-Ese’s artwork explores her identity as a Nigerian-American woman with a disability, without overtly displaying imagery commonly associated with disabilities. The emotions and stories that she paints are also inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit. Even the more stoic figures radiate with the confidence of a person who will fulfil their purpose no matter what obstacles may be in their path. In most of Yemi-Ese’s current work, she uses Adinkra and Yoruba iconography to convey stories and ideas. She encourages audiences to reflect on their own experiences while engaging with her art pieces.

About the Artist

Nigerian-American therapist and visual artist, Kemi Yemi-Ese, resides in Austin, Texas. Following a near tragic car accident in 2006, Kemi became paralyzed at the cervical level of her spinal cord and uses a wheelchair for mobility. After graduating from Baylor University and Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, Kemi is focused on growing in her dual careers as an artist and therapist. Her art reflects the struggles and triumphs that living with a disability entail through imagery that is relatable. Her artwork and therapeutic approaches often challenge representations of mobility, gender, beauty, race, and divinity. The challenges she faces compel her to also be an advocate and she has taken many opportunities to advocate for her rights and those of others with disabilities. From serving on boards for independent living centers to winning the title of Ms. Wheelchair America, Kemi is earnest in speaking up and taking action. Kemi’s current work is heavily inspired by her Nigerian heritage blending dynamic and contemplative portraits with cultural exploration.