Live Unchained had the pleasure of interviewing the talented Dawn Okoro about her paintings and process. As seen in her work above, her pieces are strikingly vibrant, highlighting bold colors and embracing femininity and beauty. Using oil, acrylic, pencil and other mediums, she incorporates photography, collage, and ideas from popular culture. Dawn holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from Texas Southern University. Her work has been exhibited at the World Financial Center in New York City; RFA Gallery in Harlem; Texas Southern University Museum; Rice University, and the Texas Biennial.
Do you find that people who first know you as an artist are surprised to learn that you are also licensed to practice law? Is the practice of law and creation of art as distinct as some might imagine?
I do find that many people are surprised that I’m an artist, yet I studied law. I have known that I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, but I was afraid that I would become a “starving artist.” I thought that maybe I could work as a lawyer by day and as an artist at night.
My paintings actually helped me survive my law school years– financially and mentally. To create and study law at the same time I felt that I had to reach into two very distant parts of my brain. Law felt very cold, rigid and rule-oriented, but when I painted I felt free and relaxed.
By the time I graduated from law school I knew that practicing law wasn’t for me. I decided to hold off on taking the bar exam and focused on my artwork.
You say self-reflexivity is important to your work. Why is it so meaningful?
I like to people watch. Even since I was a child I was shy but very observant of people. I also have a psychology degree, so you could say that I am very interested in what goes on in the human mind. This curiosity comes out in my art.