"You know, art can be something which can really disempower people, or it can be a vehicle which can empower people."
Yinka Shonibare MBE
About the artist
Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in 1962 in London, England. After growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Shonibare studied at Byam Shaw School of Art, London (1984–89) and earned an MA from Goldsmiths College, London University (1991). Known for using batik in costumed dioramas that explore race and colonialism, Yinka Shonibare MBE also employs painting, sculpture, photography, and film in work that disrupts and challenges our notions of cultural identity. Taking on the honorific MBE as part of his name in everyday use, Shonibare plays with the ambiguities and contradictions of his attitude toward the Establishment and its legacies of colonialism and class. In multimedia projects that reveal his passion for art history, literature, and philosophy, Shonibare provides a critical tour of Western civilization and its achievements and failures. At the same time, his sensitive use of his own foibles (vanity, for one) and challenges (physical disability) provide an autobiographical perspective through which to navigate the contradictory emotions and paradoxes of his examination of individual and political power. Among his awards are the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE ) (2005), a fellowship at Goldsmith’s College (2003), and the Art for Architecture Award, Royal Society of Arts (1998). Shonibare was nominated for the Turner Prize (2004). His work has appeared in major exhibitions at Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California (2009); Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York, (2005); Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2004); and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2004); among others. He has participated in international events including Documenta (2003); Spoleto Festival, Charleston (2003); and the Venice Biennale (2001). Yinka Shonibare MBE lives and works in London.