Born in Nigeria, West Africa, Atinuke Adeleke moved to the United States in 2009. She holds an undergraduate law degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and a master’s degree in law from the University of Buckingham, England. Atinuke is currently pursuing a master’s degree in fine arts at the University of North Texas, where she was initiated into Phi Kappa Phi. She is also an alumnus of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and a member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG).
After moving to the U.S., Atinuke could not work due to her visa status, so she stumbled upon jewelry making to supplement her family’s income. She founded the accessory brand Zuri Perle, and her pieces have graced runways at New York Fashion Week and Kansas City Fashion Week. Her creations have also been featured in Italiano L'Orafo, Weekly Style Magazine, Fox 4KC, Say Yes to the Dress and CNN Africa.
In 2020, Atinuke was one of fifty artists selected by New York City Jewelry Week for the “Here We Are” initiative that focuses on BIPOC jewelry artists. Her current body of work includes sculpture and fiber pieces that incorporate her birthplace's traditional culture and practices, western traditional woodworking techniques, and modern processes such as CAD, 3D printing and CNC routing.
Let’s get to know Atinuke!
Why did you accept the invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi?
In building a business from the ground up, I have learned to wear different hats: artist, designer, marketer, social media influencer and so much more. However, not having the traditional networking circles of school, family, etc., to rely on has given me a greater appreciation of how valuable these resources are and can be. I believe that accepting the invitation to join Phi Kappa Phi is a step in the right direction toward building and sustaining a network that will help me grow and flourish personally and in my artistic practice.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned through running your own business?
Resilience and patience. It takes a lot to pursue, build and sustain your passion from the ground up,
What do you plan to do after graduation?
I plan to continue growing my business and artistic practice. I would also like to serve as a facilitator and guide to those coming behind me through teaching and mentorship opportunities.
Who inspires you?
Different people inspire various aspects of my life. As an artist, I am inspired by artists such as Peju Alatise, Simon Leigh and Anselm Keiffer.
What was the best vacation you’ve been on?
Egypt, I got to see and stand on the stones of the Pyramids. They truly are magnificent.
What was the first concert you attended?
The first concert I can recall attending would be a concert held by the Choir of the Chapel of Resurrection back in Nigeria. My grandmother was an active member of that choir for over 50 years. We always went to see her sing, and her solos were simply amazing. She passed away this year.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
It’s never too late to go after what you want.
What was the greatest challenge in your collegiate studies?
Venturing into the arts from a legal and business background can seem like you were plucked from the earth and dropped off on Mars. Playing catch up and learning the lingo and terminology while staying true to myself and my vision was a challenge.
What is your favorite restaurant?
My current favorite food place is Gidi Bar and Grill. Their menu includes Nigerian dishes, and I like to order Ofada Sauce and Rice, a spicy sauce with assorted meats and rice.
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be?
It would have to be an artisan from the Yoruba tribe prior to the onset of colonization and western influence. I have so many questions about the artistic practice and influences of that era and would love the chance to have some of my questions answered.
To learn more about Atinuke and connect, visit her profile within our online member community here.
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