Published April 16, 2024

Release of Victoria Udondian's Monograph "How Can I Be Nobody"

The Distinguished Visiting Scholars program, and Department of Art of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo, is excited to announce the Buffalo launch of Victoria Udondian's monograph, "How Can I Be Nobody" (Hirmer Publishers, 2024). The publication follows her 2022 solo exhibition in Smack Mellon's main gallery space, in New York City, featuring a site-specific installation that combines woven textiles, sculptures, and sound.

Sculptures made out of crocheted rope, that look like life-sized hooded figures, with a gray background, and white text.

Monograph Cover, Victoria Udondian, How Can I Be Nobody(Hirmer Publishers, 2024), edited by Sylvester Ogbechie, Ph.D.


The Distinguished Visiting Scholars program, College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo and Smack Mellon, New York City is delighted to host the launch of Victoria-Idongesit Udondian’s monograph, How Can I Be Nobody (Hirmer Publishers, 2024), edited by Sylvester Ogbechie, Ph.D.  The publication follows her 2022 solo exhibition in Smack Mellon’s main gallery space, in New York City, featuring a site-specific installation that combines woven textiles, sculptures, and sound.

The event will take place as follows:

Wed. April 24th, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center

341 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202

Fri. April 26th, 6.30 pm

Smack Mellon

92 Plymouth St., Brooklyn, NY 11201

Victoria-Idongesit Udondian is a contemporary artist whose work is driven by an interest in textiles and the potential for clothing to shape identity. She explores creativity, culture, and memory in everyday materials through the histories and tacit meanings embedded in contemporary textiles. Udondian uses this conceptual framework to create interdisciplinary projects that question notions of cultural identity and post-colonial positions in relation to her experiences growing up in Nigeria, and her America-based transnational art practice. Her artworks examine the complexities of migration and racial and cultural identity in the global context. How Can I Be Nobody is the first publication to document and contextualize Udondian’s creative interrogation of textiles and shifting cultural identities within a global trade system, characterized by the movement of goods and people from one part of the world to the other.  -Hirmer Publishers

The Buffalo event will feature a screening of Udondian’s new film work–a continuation of this ongoing project. This will be followed by a discussion between Udondian and Editor, Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, Ph.D., with moderation by Donte McFadden, Director of the Distinguished Visiting Scholars Program at UB. Meanwhile, the NYC event will feature a discussion between the artist and contributor Akil Kumarasamy, moderated by Rachel Vera Steinberg, curator and director of exhibitions at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, New York. Copies of the publication will be available for purchase at these events.


More information on the book can be found here:



Victoria-Idongesit Udondian’s interdisciplinary works examine the intersection between immigration, labor, global trade systems and our postcolonial condition. She received an MFA in Sculpture and New Genres from Columbia University, New York; attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and has a BA in painting from the University of Uyo, Nigeria. She is currently a Visiting Associate Professor of Art at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, Buffalo, New York. In 2020, Udondian was named a Guggenheim Fellow. Her works have been exhibited internationally at The British Textile Biennial, United Kingdom; Hacer Nocer at Museo Textil de Oaxaca, (Textile Museum of Oaxaca), Mexico; The Bronx Museum, New York; The Inaugural Nigerian Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial-An Excerpt; Fisher Landau Centre for the Arts, New York; National Museum, Lokaja and Lagos, Nigeria; Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), Lagos; Spring Break Art Fair, New York; The Children Museum of Manhattan, New York; Casa dei Tre Oci, Venice, Italy; Whitworth Gallery, Manchester, UK; and the National Gallery of Arts, Abuja and Uyo, Nigeria, and Smack Mellon, NY. Some of her Artist Residencies include Fountainhead Residency in Miami; Instituto Sacatar, Bahia, Brazil; The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), Massachusetts, USA; Fine Arts Work Centre (FAWC), Provincetown; USA; Villa Straulli, Winterthur, Switzerland; Fondazione di Venezia, Venice, Italy and Bag Factory Studios, Johannesburg, South Africa. Her work has been reviewed internationally by The Guardian, UK and Nigeria; The Times, UK; Hyperallergic; Elephant Magazine; The Art Newspaper, and ArtNet News.

Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, professor of African art history at the University of California Santa Barbara, is an art historian, artist, and curator whose research focuses on African and African Diaspora arts, modern and contemporary art, and African cultural patrimony. Ogbechie is the author of Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist (2008) and Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art

Collection (2011). He is the editor of Artists of Nigeria (2012) and the founder/editor of Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture. His awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, Fellow/Consortium Professor of the Getty Research Institute, Daimler Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, Senior Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution, Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Fellow of the Institute for International Education.

Akil Kumarasamy is the author of the novel, Meet Us by the Roaring Sea (FSG, 2022), shortlisted for the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize and Lambda Literary Award, and the linked story collection, Half Gods, (FSG, 2018), which was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, was awarded the Bard Fiction Prize and the Story Prize Spotlight Award, and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Her work has appeared in Harper’s MagazineThe AtlanticAmerican Short FictionBOMB, among others. She has received fellowships from the University of East Anglia, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Yaddo, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She is an assistant professor in the Rutgers University-Newark MFA program.

Rachel Vera Steinberg is the curator and director of exhibitions at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, New York, where she oversees the production of ambitiously scaled installations and exhibitions. Her work explores cultural mythmaking, the world-building methodologies found in science fiction, and political and historical distinctions between fact and fiction. She was the 2019–20 fellow at the Curatorial & Research Residency Program at the Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she curated the exhibition JSC on View: Mythologists (2021–22). Her exhibitions have been written about in Hyperallergic, Artsy, KUBA Paris, Brooklyn Magazine, Art F City, and more. As an independent curator, she has curated exhibitions locally and internationally and spoken at universities throughout the US. She has an MA from Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies and a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.