We had the good fortune of connecting with Kemi Yemi-Ese and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kemi, when you are approached by someone at a networking event, what makes you want to connect with someone? What makes you want to avoid them?
On the topic of networking, I’ve learned that the best way to connect is to be intent on being genuine and interested in what the other person is saying or doing. If you’re focused on trading business cards and your specific projects, the other person can sense that and the interaction falls through. I avoid people who talk too much about their projects and I gravitate towards people who passionate about their work and considerate of my work as well.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
When people first see me, they see my wheelchair and define me based on the limitations of my disability. Through my art I identify as someone who perseveres and under God’s grace has triumphed. In place of the wheelchair, I want people to see and understand the blessings I have experienced since my car accident. That keeps me busy professionally aside from commission pieces; creating art that conveys this idea. It is the human condition to explore, to seek excellence, and to create. The physical limitations we experience don’t always deter our endeavors but can inspire us to defy seemingly insurmountable odds. Being an artist with a physical disability has taught me much about inner strength and has given me a deeper insight regarding limitations. I’ve learned by making mistakes and having my work rejected, that the greater success is not giving up and continuing to invest in my artistic growth. The emotions and stories that I paint are inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit. My art reflects the struggles and triumphs that living with a disability entail through imagery that is relatable. My current work is heavily inspired by my Nigerian heritage blending vibrant and contemplative portraits with cultural exploration.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In Houston, there is no shortage of interesting things to do and explore. As an artist I am more inclined to show visitors around the city’s visual gems like the Contemporary Arts Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts. A tour of my favorite restaurants would include Lovebirds, Lotus Seafood & Wings and The Sweet Boutique. With the current pandemic it’s fortunate that you can enjoy the art museums via virtual tours and the restaurants through delivery or take-out.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to give a shoutout to my fellow creatives that made networking feel genuine and enjoyable. Carre Adams, the Lead Curator for the George Washington Carver Museum, especially gets my shoutout for supporting my artistic development and giving me my first museum exhibition.