On Collaboration: Solange Knowles and Nigerian Artist Toyin Odutola

The New York Pair Share Their Mutual Appreciation for Art and Music

“I think the essence of collaboration is being able to lay yourself on the line,” says singer and songwriter Solange Knowles, discussing visual artist Toyin Odutola’s powerful pen-and-marker works that explore identity in the fifth and final part of NOWNESS’ series created in conjunction with EDITION Hotels. “The best collaborations are not knowing what to expect; being completely open-minded and having a sense of vulnerability.”

In this episode entitled “Inspiration,” the pair unpack their shared appreciation for one another: Knowles’ first correspondence with Odutola was after she looked to track down the artist’s intricate, embossed pieces after a sold-out exhibition at New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery; she went on to commission an artwork which brought the two creatives closer. “I thought how can I address this in a way that’s poignant and feel like I can really connect with you?” says Odutola. “So I did this series of myself looking down in this exhausted state, then looking up like I’m going to tackle you, and then down again.” The pair have a mutual muse in Africa, as reflected in Knowles’ most recent EP release, True—co-written with Dev Hynes—which gave rise to the Cape Town-filmed video to “Losing You,” and My Country Has No Name, the third solo show from Odutula, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in Alabama. “It was months and months of creating, so it was really nice to have Solange’s voice in my head as I’m working,” explains Odutola of listening to her friend’s music. “Your message is something that really connected with me; I see myself in your work.”

Each film in the On Collaboration series has been produced in partnership with EDITION Hotels, a new project between Ian Schrager and Marriott Hotels. The London EDITION opened in September 2013.

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