Meet Prof. Tonie Okpe: Most Senior sculptor in ABU Zaria.

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Professor Tonie Okpe is a distinguished Abusite and One of Nigeria’s most respected artists and scholars of his field who has been practicing, teaching, and researching on sculpture and related areas for the past 35yrs and is currently the most senior sculptor at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

Prof Tonie Okpe (Christopher Anthony Okpe) was born on February 17, 1961, in Otukpa, Benue State, Nigeria. He studied sculpture at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for the BA level, graduating with a First Class Honours in 1982. 

Prof. Tonie Okpe

He was posted to College of Education, Ilorin, Kwara State for his NYSC where he served as a lecturer from 1982-1983. He began his lecturing career in 1983 at the Federal College of Education, Kontagora until 1984 when left the institution.

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Tonie Okpe returned back to his alma mater, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and joined the Department of Fine and Applied Arts of the university as a lecturer in 1984 where he later bagged an MA in 1986 and later a Ph.D. degree. He was made acting head, sculpture section.

Tonie Okpe who is currently a Professor of sculpture at the department of fine art, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria has held several departmental, faculty, and university positions at the institution from 1984 to date

Okpe has held solo and numerous group exhibitions and participated in several sculpture symposia. His works are in public and private collections in Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, France Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom, United States of America, Turkey, Denmark, and the Czech Republic. His international art visits include the Dakar Biennale and Documenta XII.

In 2004, Professor Tonie Okpe was a recipient of the Ford Foundation/triangle Art Trust Fellowship as Sculptor-in-Residence at the Vermont Studio Centre, USA as well as being awarded visiting artist status as artist-in-residence at the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria in 2006. In September 2013, Okpe participated in the World Bank Art Exhibition, World Bank Building in Abuja.

He chaired the 2015 grand finale of Life In My City Art Festival (LIMCAF) which opened on Monday, October 19, 2015.

Prof Tonie Okpe will soon turn 60 years and as part of the activities marking his 60th anniversary, a festschrift is being organized to articulate, examine, document, and analyze his artistic practice, teachings as well as his scholarship.

Organizers of the event have therefore called for submission of papers from interested persons beginning from September 15 till November 15. All entries should include images, where applicable, and should be between eight and 16 pages double spacing using font size 12 Times Roman.

Also, the submission of papers must be accompanied by a non-refundable assessment fee of N5000.

Some of his Awards and Honors include the Cyprian Ihieaji sculpture prize, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1982; National Arts Council sculpture prize, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1982. Public Collections Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Sculptures: “Form Synthesis,” 1982 and “African Elephant,” 1982.

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Chila Andrew Aondofa

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