From her first group exhibition at the Mbari Mbayo Club in 1968 in Oọogbo, Nigeria, to her featured role as one of the more well known contemporary Nigerian artists in the Smithsonian World documentary Nigerian Art--Kindred Spirits in 1990, Monica Olufunmilayọ Oyenikẹ (or Nikẹ, pronounced Nee-keh, as she refers to herself) Davies has become one of Nigeria's most celebrated contemporary artists. 1, 2
Davies's introduction to art began when she was a teenager, embroidering linen for a local woman tailor in her village. Later on, she began to produce woven cloth using the methods she learned from her greatgrandmother, Ibitọla (also called "Red Woman"), who was head of the women's loom guild in Jos in the 1950s. Ibitọla specialized in the production of ọjas, long strips of decorative cloth used to carry babies on women's backs ( LaDuke 1991). Ibitọla sold her ọjas mainly to Ibos for 50 kobo apiece. The sheer labor-intensiveness of this work led her to abandon traditional weaving in favor of the more fashionable adirẹ. 3, 4 The adirẹ proved to be less time-consuming and more profitable. Nikẹ Davies assisted her great-grandmother by drawing designs freehand on the cloth--a typical young girl's task--using a starchy paste made from boiled cassava and alum. The girls used chicken feathers to apply the starch in lines to form squares and then painted various motifs within the squares ( Eicher 1976).
Davies learned to embroider, one of the crafts that launched her