My name is Gasali Onireke Adeyemo. I am the third born of five from a small rural village, Offatedo, located in Osun State, Nigeria. My mother is a trader and my father, a farmer. Although my family was rich in spirit and culture, we were poor in capital and I sponsored my own education throughout my years at St. George Elementary and Ido Osun High School.
From a very young age, I realized my artistic potential and I would attend social gatherings, such as weddings, naming and burial ceremonies, and other cultural parties offering to sketch portraits of the guest, for a small donation. My sketching career combined with long, hard days working on the village farms provided adequate income to successfully complete my academic education through high school.
At this point, my attention turned to improving upon my artistic potential. I discovered the Nike Center for Arts and Culture in 1990, where I remained for a total of six years. The first two years of my experience at the Nike Center was spent mastering the arts of batik painting on fabric, indigo dyeing, quilt making, embroidery, applique, and batik painting on rice paper. During the following four years, I spent long days teaching these skills to incoming students at the Nike Center. In 1995, my long years of service and dedication to the Nike Center paid off, and my artwork was exhibited in Bayreuth, Germany, alongside the work of five other artists from Nigeria. My work made quite an impact, and many people traveled to Osogbo looking for the artist named Gasali. People who were exposed to my work later commissioned me to do quilt work and other pieces and my artistic career truly began to bloom.
Eventually, the popularity of the Nike Center grew and hundreds of people came to Osogbo, Nigeria from all over the world to study and enrich their knowledge and understanding of the arts and culture of the Yoruba people. I spent much of my time conducting workshops and training people in the crafts of my culture.
In 1996 the opportunity arose to travel outside of Nigeria for the first time in my life. A woman named Karen came to Osogbo, Nigeria through an exchange program from America. We met and did workshops together. Impressed with my work, she invited me to come to the University of Iowa to do a series of exhibitions and workshops. Once there, the Octagon Gallery in Ames, Iowa took notice of my work and offered to exhibit it. I was also invited to work with a group of teenagers doing storytelling and art workshops to share with them the traditions of my own Yoruba culture.
These experiences in Iowa opened the door to greater opportunities. I have traveled across the U.S conducting more workshops and exhibitions. In the future, I plan to continue to travel worldwide, sharing the arts and culture of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. I currently reside in Santa Fe, New Mexico.