Yvonne Osei Receives 2018 Visionary Award for Emerging Artist

The Saint Louis Visionary Awards celebrates the numerous contributions and achievements of women professionals who work in or support the arts in the greater St. Louis region. This year, Yvonne Osei, our Curator in Residence at COCA was selected as the 2018 Visionary Award recipient for Emerging Artist. Upon receiving her award on April 23 at the historic Sun Theater, she had these inspiring words to share:

There is a Ghanaian proverb that says, “It takes an entire village to raise a child.” And even though, my parents are far across the Atlantic Ocean, there are many individuals in St. Louis that have and continue to support me.

It is important to note that this recognition is made possible because a group of women found it necessary to carve a space to honor other women. And, I am reminded of the many women that have invested in what I have become today.

I remember at the age of 11, when my mother turned our dining room into a gallery space where I could showcase my work. Or how she never scolded me for turning the walls of a bedroom I shared, with my two other siblings, into a pictorial diary.

I remember the first week I got to St. Louis, knocking on every gallery door in Webster Groves. It was Julie Campbell that took me in as a Gallery Assistant. She even took me to the homes of her friends to cut down bamboo for my school projects.

I remember in my sophomore year at Webster University, getting my first commission from a woman who believed that I was selling myself too short for offering her a painting at a price she ended up doubling. She told me, “You are that good Yvonne. Believe in it.”

I remember my mentor Professor Ward-Brown, staying up with me till 3:00AM to finish up my graduate thesis for Washington University. And how she would often say, “Do not let anyone limit your limitlessness!”

How my dream to actualize my first collection of garments, an $11,000 budget, became possible through checks and contributions. All by women!

You see, if I have any heights today, it is because I continue to stand on the shoulders of many powerful women who have selflessly encouraged and invited me into spaces I would have never had the opportunity to grace. Adrienne Davis! Nancy Kranzberg! Susan Barrett! Renee Franklin!

Only to mention a few. I thank them all immensely for believing in me.

And to the men in my life, not to say that you don’t come to the rescue, too, but in honor of this award and what it stands for, I celebrate the importance of women as pacesetters in my career.

To the young creatives – no one understands your story and struggles like you do. Be the first to invest in your capabilities and approach your work with boldness! No one sums better than John Wesley when he says, “Light yourself on fire with passion, and people will come from miles to watch you burn.”


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