Interviewed at his home in Dayton by Sandra Grady
30 July 2011

Chukwuemeka Kene was born in Iowa where his father, a native of Nigeria, attended graduate school in statistics. After his father completed his education, the family returned to Nigeria, in the eastern Enugu state, where Kene was raised. He is from the Igbo ethnic group, and comes from a family of artists. His grandmother did uli, a form of tattooing, so Kene grew up learning drawing from her and a cousin who also worked as an artist. He started drawing on his own and taught himself many skills, and later completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts. When he completed his degree, he was producing smaller works with less detail. Kene currently works with oil and watercolor paint, charcoal, ink, and mixed media.

Kene immigrated to the US to pursue graduate study in Fine Arts, and moved to Dayton along with a host family. There he met Bing Davis, an artist and mentor well known in the Dayton area and, on his advice, Kene moved to bigger canvasses and began using more color. His current work offers a muted palette on larger frames. Kene notes that artists in African university programs are not taught technique, and he would like to further develop his skills in the US, but has not yet found the appropriate program of study. He considers his skills to be self-taught, and he continues to paint from his home in Dayton. He has shown his work in Cincinnati, and looks forward to more opportunities here to learn and sell his work.

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