Hunter's Point artist Nina Fabunmi escapes life in real estate to live her dream in SF
Blue Ocean, a self-portrait by Nina Fabunmi. (Courtesy of the artist)

Hunter's Point artist Nina Fabunmi escapes life in real estate to live her dream in SF


Things could have gone quite differently for painter Nina Fabunmi, a child of a Nigerian architect who was encouraged to be creative but not to pursue art as a career—real estate, after all, would be much more practical.

But called as she was to that divine creative, she played around in the arts department while earning her degree in estate management. Fabunmi was barely out of school, in 2001, when a Nigerian gallery owner purchased five of her watercolor paintings. The rest, as they say, is...well, you know.

While working her sensible day job, the artist's big break came in 2011 when a special commission earned her enough funds to enroll in the MFA Painting program at Academy of Art University and she was off to San Francisco. That same year, she took a job, which she still holds, as docent at the Museum of the African Diaspora; having graduated with her MFA, she is also a part-time faculty member at AAU.

These days, Fabunmi is flourishing in her full-time gig as an artist, with several accolades and exhibitions under her belt. You can meet the artist and see her work in her studio at Hunter's Point Shipyard during Weekend One of ArtSpan's Open Studios.

But first! We subjected Fabumni to a Proustian questionnaire on the important things in life—art, books, and margaritas. Check it out below.

Painter Nina Fabunmi will open her Hunter's Point studio during ArtSpan Open Studios, Oct. 12-13, 2019.(Courtesy of the artist)

7x7:If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

NF: As a much better version of myself

7x7:Martini, margarita, or Manhattan?

NF: Margarita... I love the way it sounds, though I'd rather have a glass of red wine.

7x7: If you were a painting in a museum what would it be?

NF: The Mona Lisa

7x7: What is your greatest achievement?

NF: Earning my permanent residency in the USA, and winning a beauty pageant as the "Most Gracious Mum In Nigeria," in 2008.

7x7: What is your favorite book?

NF: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

7x7: What is your greatest weakness?

NF: Being a hopeless romantic

7x7: Who's your local hero?

NF: Fred Jordan, an engineer and patron of the arts who sits on the board of MoAD—he saved my life when I was in a dire medical emergency.

7x7: What is one thing you'd change about SF?

NF: Housing needs to be affordable so I can buy one of my own!

7x7: How does the Bay Area inspire your work—or not?

NF: My painting at the Chase Center is titled Do it tor the Bay. In many ways, my art is of the Bay and I do it for the Bay, and for my African roots.

(Courtesy of the artist)

The artist with her new painting for the Warrior's Chase Center, Do it for the Bay.

// ArtSpan Open Studios Weekend One is Oct. 12-13, 11am to 6pm, at Hunter's Point Shipyard; for more information, go to For more on artist Nina Fabunmi, visit

Related Articles
Now Playing at SF Symphony
View this profile on Instagram

7x7 (@7x7bayarea) • Instagram photos and videos

From Our Partners