Layo Bright is a Nigeria–born sculptor and visual artist, exploring the themes of migration, inheritance, identity, colonialism, and gender. Her sculptures and installations address African narratives and create different vantage points for questioning issues surrounding the continent. In her works dedicated to the Libya migrant crisis and “modern slave trade” Layo Bright pays close attention to the failed state of origin, systemic violence, border imperialism, transitory spaces of detention and desired countries of destination. With an intuitive and creative use of materials the artist explores femininity and traditional culture.
Layo Bright’s distinct remarkable artworks highlight textiles such as gele, a traditional Nigerian head tie. Bright’s sculptures of female heads are adorned with gele of different colours and shapes; some of them are self-portraits of the artist and family members. The artist deftly wraps hard pieces of fabric, layer by layer, on each work; mimicking the movements she recalls from years of watching the women in Lagos, Nigeria, where she grew up.
“I remember getting ready for church on Sunday mornings and watching my mum tie her gele. Her process was almost ceremonial: picking through various colours, the sounds of the hard fabric as she wrapped it around her head, the squeezing of her face as it tightened around her ears, and the smile of satisfaction as she structured her headdress to a desired shape…I was in awe!”
– Lyao Bright
Layo Bright (b. 1991, Lagos, NG) received her LL.B (Hons.) from Babcock University (2014), and her MFA in Fine Art (Hons.) from the Parsons School of Design (2018). The artist has recently completed her art residency at NXTHVN, New Haven, CT, US. Bright is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the UrbanGlass Winter Scholarship Award (2021), UrbanGlass Winter Scholarship Award (2020), the International Sculpture Center’s Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award (2018); the Beyoncé Formation Finalist Scholarship (2017); and the Parsons Dean Scholarship (2016).
Bright’s head sculptures have been featured in several notable international exhibitions including To Heal and Protect, Welancora Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, US; I Am Not A Goddess...Unless I Say I Am, Alliance Française - Mike Adenuga Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos; International Biennale of Glass at the National Gallery of Bulgaria, Sofia, BG; SOMETHING ABOUT US, Anthony Gallery, IL, US; A Chance Encounter, Parts & Labor, NY, US; You Don’t See Me, Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, NY, US; Maid in Nigeria, Untitled AWCA, Lagos, NG; Through Her Eye, Mana Contemporary, IL, US; Carry Over: New Voices from the Global African Diaspora, Smack Mellon, NY, US; Reality Check, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, NY, US, among others. Layo Bright lives and works in New York, NY, US.