ONAJE GRANT-SIMMONDS

Onaje Grant-Simmonds (b. May 19, 2002) is a Surrealist painter born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He is currently studying Visual Arts at Brown University, where he will receive his BFA in 2024. Grant-Simmonds explores the ego, consciousness, anxiety, and internalized oppression in paintings which merge abstract imagery and idealized naturalism. Grant-Simmonds has made art for as long as he can remember. Being inspired by adventure cartoons during his elementary years, he developed his first professional goal: becoming an animator. Following countless online tutorials, he centered his drawing practice around form, gesture, perspective. In middle school, his interest shifted to comic book illustration. Inspired by the Stan Lee’ Marvel universe, he wished to construct his own pantheon of mythic characters. Through studying comic book illustrators, he delved into artistic anatomy and dynamic composing. In high school he began to think critically of his social and personal lives as he struggled with anxiety and looked at ways to alleviate it. A portfolio workshop at the Joan Mitchell Foundation exposed him to the ways in which studio painting was the ideal artistic career through which he could express and understand his emotions.

Grant-Simmonds began a Surrealist, illustrative series titled Fauna in the summer of 2017. It was an illustrative journal, with each piece functioning as an entry chronicling crucial moments and contemplations in his adolescent life. Grant-Simmonds visualized these moments through anthropomorphic animals roaming through floral lands. While in college, Grant-Simmonds began exploring materiality and abstraction as new artistic devices. He also began investigating philosophical and religious concepts as vehicles through which he can articulate his experience with the mind. This investigation led to the series of paintings he has been developing at Brown University. In these works, the artist combines Sci-Fi and digital-era iconography, naturalist landscapes, and expressionist brushstrokes to compose his chromatically intense psychic world. While attending college, Grant-Simmonds has exhibited in a solo show in Brooklyn titled Enter Cerebrum, as well as group shows at the New York Academy of Art, the RISD Museum, Brown University, and the Providence Art Club.

 

 

Education

Brown University, 2024. BFA (candidate). Providence, RI

• 2019: MICA Pre College Program. Baltimore, MD

• 2019: Cooper Union PreCollege Program. New York, NY

• 2018: Pratt PreCollege Program. Brooklyn, NY

 

Exhibitions

• 2022: Enter Cerebrum. Haus of Gold. New York, NY. (Solo show)

• 2022: Faunal Meditation. List Art Center. Providence RI. (Duo show)

• 2022: New York Academy of Art SURP Exhibition. New York, NY

• 2022: The Black Biennia. RISD Museum’s Gelman Gallery. Providence, RI

• 2022: Providence Art Club College Scholarship Exhibition. Providence, RI

• 2022: Brown University’s 42nd Annual Juried Student Exhibition. Granoff Center. Providence, RI

• 2021: Exhibition at Ashenfelter Slous McDonough & Trevenen, LLP. Montclair, NJ.

 

Awards

• 2022: Second Place Award for the Providence Art Club College Scholarship Exhibition. Providence, RI

• 2020: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Silver Key. New York, NY

 

Residencies:

• 2022: Summer Undergraduate Residency Program at the New York Academy of Art. New York, NY

 

Publications

• 2020: ”Prospect Park Is the (Only) Place to Be: One October weekend of socially distanced socializing.” The Cut

• 2022: “Providence Art Club displays works from Rhode Island College Students.” The Brown Daily Herald

• 2022: “Project Main Green brings live art, music to campus.” The Brown Daily Herald

ONAJE GRANT-SIMMONDS