Adebunmi Gbadebo - Claire Oliver Gallery

Adebunmi Gbadebo

My work began out of a rejection of traditional art materials because of their association with Whiteness. Art history teaches us that the masters, the best to have ever used paint or those worthy enough to be painted, were white men. Not only did I reject that narrative and its materials, but I also went on to find a material and a history in which to root my own work that positions the people who looked like me as central to my practice.

My material is human hair from people of the African Diaspora. Our hair is so connected to our culture, politics, and history!  It is history and DNA. The process of working with hair has allowed me to utilize my community as an integral part of my studio practice. Local barbershops and people’s homes have become my art store. My community helps me create every artwork! Strangers trust me to give a new purpose to their hair. Thus, with honor, the first piece I made was Dada. Twenty feet of locks sprawled up a wall, literally and metaphorically, forces the viewer to look up to black hair. I have sewn hair to canvas and I hand sew most of my work. The needle replaces my brush and instantly, the process became more involved allowing me to pierce through surfaces to insert “nappy” hair. The needle also slows the process and reflects that of a hairdresser or a mother working on her child’s head that rests in between her thighs. I am looking for ways to integrate genealogies of the diaspora with critical discourse through my use of hair!

April 7, 2022 to April 10, 2022

Navy Pier, Chicago IL

View exhibit press release (pdf)

Claire Oliver Gallery is thrilled to announce our return to Chicago for a long-overdue in-person celebration of art. At this inception of EXPO CHICAGO, the Gallery will bring major new works by artists Gio Swaby, Robert Peterson, Adebunmi Gbadebo, and Stan Squirewell. These artists whose practices vary but share a commonality in their desire to reframe the often-politicized Black body.

In addition to these powerful voices the Gallery will present a special exhibition, "The Lost Negatives," the works of photographer Jeffery Henson Scales. Historically significant, culturally cool, and artistically framed, the works transcend the view into the artist's unique vantage point to history. The exhibition features photographs from the 1960s including Henson Scales’ earliest forays as a photographer during the electrifying summer of 1967 when, at age 13, he toured the Midwest to see relatives in Chicago. As a Black teenager, he saw the poverty and oppression of Northern Black communities and when he returned to Oakland, CA became immersed in photographing the milieu of the Black Panther movement in Northern California. These images chart the emergence of his awakening as a documentary photographer as well as a Black man in a pivotal moment in the 20th century that echoes today’s Black Lives Matter movement.

June 24, 2022 to August 13, 2022

Claire Oliver Gallery

View exhibit press release (pdf)

Claire Oliver looks forward to exciting exhibitions in the 2022-23 season in Harlem. Future Perfect features new works by Robert Peterson, Stan Squirewell, Barbara Earl Thoms, Gio Swaby, Adebunmi Gbadebo, and introduces the works of Simone Saunders. Visit the exhibition and see what's coming next.

December 1, 2020 to January 23, 2021

Claire Oliver Gallery

View exhibit press release (pdf)

Four Now Is A Presentation of The Gallery’s Booth at Untitled Art Fair,
Telegraphing the Excitement of Miami Art Week To Claire Oliver’s Harlem Headquarters
With A Dynamic Program of Virtual Talks

September 17, 2020 to November 14, 2020

Claire Oliver Gallery

View exhibit press release (pdf)

Claire Oliver Gallery is pleased to announce the debut solo exhibition by artist Adebunmi Gbadebo, A Dilemma of Inheritance. The exhibition will showcase the artist’s True Blue series which is comprised of more than 45 works that grapple with concepts surrounding heredity and the evolution of memory and forgetting focused on two former slave plantations in South Carolina, both named True Blue. Gbadebo’s conception behind the exhibition and its naming was sparked by author Ta-Nehisi Coates’ exploration of patrimony and the inheritance of status in his case for reparations, stating “We recognize our lineage as a generational trust, as inheritance, and the real dilemma posed by reparations is just that: a dilemma of inheritance. It is impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery.” Within this inquiry, materiality is central to Gbadebo’s work, she employs Black hair, rice paper, cotton and indigo to create works that are visceral portraits of human narratives that have been erased by history.

December 4, 2019 to December 8, 2019


View exhibit press release (pdf)

UNTITLED, ART is an international, curated art fair founded in 2012 that focuses on curatorial balance and integrity across all disciplines of contemporary art. Untitled, Art innovates the standard fair model by selecting a curatorial team to identify, and curate a selection of galleries, artist-run exhibition spaces, and non-profit institutions and organizations, in dialogue with an architecturally designed venue. The next edition of Untitled, Art Miami Beach will take place on the beach at Ocean Drive and 12th Street, December 4 — 8, 2019.

October 3, 2019 to October 6, 2019

Somerset House, London

View exhibit press release (pdf)

Rivers are their own separate systems but are still connected to one body of water, the sea. I feel like this is a metaphor for various diasporic communities around the world that are still connected or have roots in Africa.

Public Collections:

  • National Museum for African American History and Culture
  • Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C.
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minnesota
  • Newark Art Museum, Newark, NJ
  • Minnesota Museum of American Art, Minneapolis MN
  • Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis MN
  • South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, SC

Selected Solo Exhibitions:

  • The Dilemma with Inheritance, Claire Oliver Gallery, New York, NY – 2020
  • Uprooted, New Jersey City University, Jersey City, NJ – 2020
  • Connected by a Strand, Therese A Maloney Gallery, College of Saint Elizabeth,
    Morristown, NJ – 2019
  • The Ade Series, Paul Robeson Gallery, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ – 2016

Selected Group Exhibitions:

  • FOR NOW, Claire Oliver Gallery, Harlem NY
  • Dhaka Art Summit, Seismic Movements, Dhaka Bangladesh 2020
  • UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach, FL 2020
  • Mapping Black Identities, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN 2020
  • Abstraction in the Black Diaspora, False Flags, Queens NY 2020
  • 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London UK 2019
  • UNTITLED, ART Miami Beach, FL 2019
  • Between Wisdom & Madness: Works in Sculpture, Index Art Center Newark,
    NJ, 2019
  • Nice/Nasty, Newark Arts Festival, Newark, NJ, 2018
  • Compassion, Morris Arts/ Dodge Foundation, Morris, NJ, 2018
  • Same Difference, Miranda Kuo Gallery, New York, NY, 2018
  • Intertwined, Chashama Gallery, Brooklyn, NY, 2017
  • She Speaks, Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ, 2017
  • Women in the World, Monmouth University, 2017
  • Say Her Name, Newark Open Doors, Newark, NJ, 2016
  • BlackLivesMatter, Kean University, Union, NJ, 2016
  • SVA Open Studio, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, 2016
  • Surrogate, SVA Chelsea Gallery, New York, NY, 2016
  • Cross-Cultural Dialogue, curator Central Academy of Fine Arts China, Jacob Javits Center, New York, NJ, 2016
  • 5on5, SVA Open Studio, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, 2015
  • SVA Open Studio, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, 2015
  • Newark Open Doors, Yendor Arts, Newark, NJ, 2015
  • Hi-Rez/ Lo Rez, SVA Flatiron Gallery, School of Visual Arts, New York, NJ, 2105
  •  Stigmata, Yendor Arts, Newark Open Doors, Newark, NJ, 2013


  • Vermont Studio Center Artist’s Grant, 2018
  • Honorarium, Mother & Muse Talk, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, 2017
  • BFA Fine Arts (Honors), 2016
  • Honorarium, Paul Robeson Gallery, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, 2016
  • SVA Merit Scholarship, School of Visual Arts, New York, NJ, 2013
  • SVA Chairman’s Scholarship, School of Visual Arts, New York, N, 2013
  • SVA Grant, School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, 2013

Residency/Public Commission/Fellowship:

  • Clay Studio Residency, Philadelphia, PA
  • Research and Community Outreach Assistant For the City Of Harriet Tubman Public Monument and Park, Newark NJ
  • Clay Studio, Philadelphia PA  2020
  • Wood carving fellowship, Polytechnic University, Ibadan, Nigeria, 2019
  • Vermont Studio Center Residency, Johnson, Vermont, 2018
  • Classical Painting Fellowship, Mario Camano Studio, Madrid, Spain, 2016
  • Gateways to Newark Mural, Newark Downtown District, Newark, NJ, 2016
  • SVA Bronze Casting, Keating Foundry, Jersey City, NJ, 2016


  • Artists in the Studio, Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco CA  2020
  • Art and Lunch, Newark Museum of Art, Newark NJ 2020
  • Artist Talk, Spence School, New York NY 2020
  • Artist in Conversation, College of Saint Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ, 2019
  • “Crown your Head,” workshop, Newark Museum, Newark NJ, 2018
  • Mother and Muse talk, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, 2017
  • Ade Series talk, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, 2016

Download Biography

2021 Distinguished Artist Series

Claire Oliver of Claire Oliver Gallery interviews fiber artists Gio Swaby and Adebunmi Gbadebo for the James Renwick Alliance for Craft 2021 Distinguished Artist Series.


The Artist takes you on a journey into her families history while exposing the "Dilemma of Inheritance"

MoAD In The Artist’s Studio | Adebunmi Gbadebo

join the Museum of the African Diaspora's own Demetri Broxton as he visits Adebunmi Gbadebo in her studio.


Black Artists Claim Their Birthright of Abstraction


December 3, 2020


A Dilemma of Inheritance VR video enhanced tour release

Claire Oliver Gallery

November 5, 2020


Art Review: Ibou Ndoye and Adebunmi Gbadebo at NJCU

Jersey City Times

February 14, 2020


Dhaka Art Summit 2020: Seismic Movements


February 21, 2020

Museum & Institutional News

Minnesota Museum of American Art acquires works by Adebunmi Gbadebo

Minnesota Museum of American Art

July 1, 2019

Museum & Institutional News

Adebunmi Gbadebo’s installation “True Blues” acquired by The Minneapolis Institute of Art

Minneapolis Institute of Art

July 1, 2019