CAMD Student Spotlight : Uzo Njoku
Major: Studio Art
Hometown: Leesburg, VA
Uzo Njoku is the author of “The Bluestocking Society,” a self-illustrated coloring book about inspirational female figures. Her story was recently highlighted in UVA Today, and her passion for art is clear: “as long as I am doing something creative, I am happy.”
How did you get started with art?
Though Uzo was initially pursuing a Statistics major, she switched fields after her first year. She took some time off and discovered painting. “And the rest is history,” she says.
“I first started with just pretty simple paintings to decorate my apartment with. I would go to Michael's and get their cheap canvases with craft paints. I laugh now to think about those days.” Uzo began posting her paintings on social media and eventually got involved with commission work.
“Taking art classes at UVA still changed my experience level. I learned how to have better hand-eye coordination, how to compose better works, build better canvases, and so much more. Then I would read articles of other contemporary artists and I have been hooked since.”
Is there a certain statement you want to make with your art?
Uzo says she’s “trying to challenge the notion of femininity,” particularly for women of color who are “constantly oversexualized in Media and under the male gaze.” She also works to reflect her own Nigerian cultural story through her art.
Who inspires you?
“Njideka Akunyili Crosby is the most influential woman in my life currently…She came to school originally pre-med and switched to studio art. Which is an extremely difficult thing to do coming from a traditional Nigerian home—something I completely relate to. Her works are absolutely amazing.”
How do you balance school and art?
“To be honest, ever since I switched majors, it does not even feel like I am in school. Just taking classes in something I love. But I will always say to anyone that gets overwhelmed trying to juggle school with a hobby, it is ok to vent.”
What advice would you give to other aspiring artists at UVA?
“You have to do way more than just paint for class.”
She advises artists to create online portfolios with professional photographs to best highlight their work. Uzo also encourages students to explore the possibilities - “there is so much funding in the Arts and opportunities to expand after school…Google is your best friend.”
Plans for the future:
“I don’t want to go right into Grad School.” Instead, Uzo is interested in travelling, doing residency programs, and applying to the UVA 5th Year Program in Studio Art. She hopes to eventually apply to the Yale School of Art.
“I’m only 22, why not make the most of it?”
Uzo likes painting on unconventional surfaces like jean jackets and purses.
Visit Uzo’s portfolio page to see her work and order a copy of the book!