Category Storytelling

In Conversation With Yomi Orimoloye

Yomi Orimoloye

Art is a powerful tool of expression. The hopes we have in the past can shape our futures. The ability to create something new or better depends on our ability to imagine it. These ideas and the prompt of what it means to dream while Black are at the core of Union Station’s newest exhibit, Black Dreams and Aspirations, sponsored by TD, co-curated in partnership with MakeRoom Inc. 

We were delighted to speak with Yomi Orimoloye, one of the artists for the exhibit, about what Black Dreams and Aspirations means to him. His featured artwork, entitled All Hands on Deck, was inspired by the recent Nigerian presidential election. In the painting, multiple hands come together to build a ship – a vessel that takes us from where we are, to where we need to be.

All Hands on Deck

What was the inspiration behind your art showcased in the Black Dreams and Aspirations exhibit? 

During the recent Nigerian election, I noticed an energy shift. There were a lot of young Nigerians who went out to vote, showing that they cared about politics. This inspired my art piece, which is all these hands building a boat, which represents the vessel that gets you from where you are to where you want to be. Everyone building it together shows that everyone has a part to play – one person can’t build the ship, it requires a collective effort. 

What message or emotion do you hope viewers take away from experiencing your artwork? 

The general idea I’m hoping to pass on is one of collaboration. Oftentimes when we think about change it seems like this huge thing, and we get discouraged because we think ‘I can’t do it all’. But no large change has ever been accomplished with just one person – so many people support and play a vital role. Change isn’t just an individual moving a big machine – it’s all of us joining hands to make it move. 

What inspired you to become an artist and how does your identity influence your work? 

When I was younger, I understood my feelings through art. You hear something in a song which resonates with your feelings, you read something in a book that you think ‘oh yeah – that’s what I was thinking’. I always found it cool that you can find art which either describes your feelings, or makes you feel something. 

Art for me started as consumption, but over time I wanted to contribute to that ethos. So, I started creating for my therapy. I’ve since grown to be more intentional about the work that I create. I’m curious to see where my artistic journey will take me in the future. 

How do you think that art has the power to inspire change in society? 

It’s incredible the amount of power that art has. It’s one thing to record events that happen, but artists themselves are people who live within the society and experience everything that’s going on. I often think about how I consume work, and how it’s made me feel. There is a need to go to art to get in touch with your emotions. In that way, it plays a big part in helping our society move towards a goal, and shaping the time we live in. Art records, but it also powers. 


Thank you, Yomi, for taking the time to speak with us about your artwork showcased in the Black Dreams and Aspirations exhibit. You can find Yomi’s art in the West Wing of Union Station from now until May. Stop by today to experience it yourself. 

Click here for more information about Union’s Black History Month exhibit.