Adejoke Aderonke Tugbiyele is a queer, Nigerian-American artist, architect, educator and advocate. Her practice explores queer Yoruba aesthetics thus challenging homophobia and standing in solidarity with the notion that “Queer Love is Not UnAfrican!” Tugbiyele’s work reveals how Yoruba philosophy and indigenous aesthetics contribute to Western thought, as successfully found within applications of Buddhist and Hindu thought. She explores ideas of flight, transformation, and transcendence. Through the concept of ‘Visible/Invisible’ her work engages multiple dualities including transparent/opaque, industrial/natural, masculinity/femininity, and spirituality/sexuality. She also weaves art and architecture while drawing inspiration from nature, presenting potential links between classical Yoruba and Ancient Nubian aesthetics.
Tugbiyele hails from the royal family of former Okin of Igbajo, late Prof. Chief Emmanuel Akande Tugbiyele (Harvard Alum. ‘55, Graduate School of Education), and former Vice-Chancellor University of Lagos (UNILAG). She is the first, openly queer woman of Nigerian descent to appear on CNN International in a 2014 interview with correspondent Vladimir Duthiers. In 2023, she was awarded the Joan Mitchell Center Artist Residency in New Orleans (2024). She received the Prix Leridon, a grand prize by the distinguished Gervanne Leridon Matthias Collection during BISO2019!, is a 2016 Joan Mitchell Painters and Sculptors Grant recipient, was listed as one of 100 Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine in 2015 and in 2013, through the U.S. Student Fulbright Fellowship (USA/Nigeria), she toured Osun Oshogbo Sacred Grove, Osun State – Nigeria, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tugbiyele has lectured and participated on panels at distinguished institutions in the United States and internationally including Harvard University, Yale University, New York University, North Park University, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at the University of Dundee, Scotland, UK, The University of Texas at Austin – Center for Art of African and Its Diaspora, CultureSummit2017 in Abu Dhabi, UAE Women in The World at Lincoln Center – NYC, The Newark Museum of Art, The Museum of Arts and Design, The Julliard School NYC, and Orange Academy in Lagos, Nigeria. In 2023, she was invited to serve as Juror for Queer Artists Fund – Nigeria.
Tugbiyele’s work has been mentioned and reviewed in numerous distinguished publications including Sculpture Magazine, American Craft Magazine, Transition Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Sole Adventurer, Okay Africa, Art Africa Magazine, and Hyperallergic Magazine. She is author of the children’s book Find Your Center, a coloring book of sacred geometric drawings inspired by Yoruba principles. She received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the Hillier College of Architecture and Design at NJIT and a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from Rinehart School of Sculpture at Maryland Institute College of Art. Her works reside in important public and private collections around the world.