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Ife Nii-Owoo is a visual artist, graphic designer, and public artist. She studied African Visual Arts at the Institute of African Studies in Accra, Ghana, and lived in London, England, and Africa for nine years. She holds a BFA from Syracuse University and a Post Graduate Certificate in Design from the London School of Communications (England). In 1978, she was a Candidate for a Master of African Visual Arts at the Institute of African Studies in Accra, Ghana. Born and raised in Philadelphia, to which she returned in 1981, her work has been included in shows at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, Woodmere Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, African American Museum of Art and Culture, New Orleans, LA, Art + Peace Museum in Philadelphia, Moore College of Art Gallery and Community Folk Art Center, Syracuse, New York. Most recently, she created the set designs and digital installations for the Kulu Mele African Dance and Drum Ensemble production of Ogun & the People.

Ife has received numerous awards and grants, including the Leeway Foundation 2022 Transformation Award (TLA) and Change Award (2008), the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau/ Multicultural Affairs Congress (MAC) Share The Heritage Award (2001),  and PRAME (Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing Excellence) Award for advertising/print ad design (2000).

Ife is also a children's book author who wrote and Illustrated a children's picture book entitled "A is for Africa," which looks at everyday Africa through the Alphabet.


My work is my joy, my meditation and prayer. This work brings me peace.  I work with hand-painted and printed papers, family images, writing scripts, and symbolism. Creating collages, paintings, shaped fans, and public art commissions. 


My work allows me to tell visual stories using color, repetition of patterns, and textures to evoke a collective memory as I work between abstract space and figurative expression. The relevance and developing presence of history in our lives and the power of myth and symbol—all features that—have long been prominent themes for me. I produce work in my studio practice and for public spaces. Inspired by the history, culture, and visual elements of the African experience, its diaspora, and my people's efforts to maintain its history, culture, and the pursuit of economic and social justice. By bearing witness to this place in time, I hope to share some sense of joy and hope.

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Artist Statement
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