ArtThe Womxn Movement

dawn okoro creates a colorful ‘punk noir’

March 9, 2020
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Dawn Okoro‘s story is familiar – because it’s AFROPUNK’s own story. Young, Black creative person grows up in middle America (Texas-born in Houston, raised in Lubbock), an introvert, with interests that supposedly do not fit her identity. She gravitates towards punk but believes herself a fish out of water. Then she discovers punk’s Black roots and the global community that keeps turning those roots into vital creative work, which galvanizes her own creativity.

For the Austin, Texas-based Okoro, that work is documenting the community members through colorful paintings, which has manifested itself in the exhibit, Punk Noir. In her artist statement, Okoro identifies the subjects of Punk Noir subjects as “black people who have a punk spirit. The work explores the idea of black people presenting truthfully, unabashed, and resisting societal expectations.” They are all people in the scene — writers, musicians, artists. And because Okoro is heavily influenced by the politics of style — especially punk style, and non-mainstream expressions of beauty and fashion — Punk Noir also includes one-of-a-kind clothing pieces.

In interviews. Okoro has said she utilizes her art to also connect with her Nigerian heritage. Yet Punk Noir is meant to be more DIY populist in terms of the audience it is trying to connect with. “I want people to walk into the exhibition and feel like they belong,” Okoro told the Dallas Observer. “I hope they can feel the sense of movement and see themselves reflected in the pieces.”

Since 2018, Punk Noir has cross-crossed independent cultural institution throughout Okoro’s home state of Texas (it is at the South Dallas Culture Center until March 21st), but it is set to go international, traveling to the Omenka Gallery in Lagos, Nigeria, where it will open on August 1st.

Dawn Okoro, “Examination of What,” acrylic on canvas, 40×62.

Dawn Okoro, “Antithesis” (2020) acrylic on canvas, 40×62.

Dawn Okoro, “Ayana” (2018) acrylic on canvas, 72×72.