Exclusive Premiere: Watch the Thrilling Trailer for ‘Tunde Olaniran: Made a Universe'

By Nicole Choma | March 31, 2022

At the Cranbrook Art Museum outside of Detroit, Michigan, multidisciplinary artist Tunde Olaniran will display their film and exhibition Tunde Olaniran: Made a Universe. Olaniran said in a press statement that the project explores their intersecting identities as “a child of an immigrant, gender non-conforming, fat, poor, and Black.” Click ‘play’ below to watch the exclusive premiere of the film.

With their first experimental short film, Made a Universe, commissioned by the Cranbrook Art Museum, Olaniran created a story that follows a hero’s journey where their weakness becomes their superpower. Filmed in various parts of Detroit, this journey reflects much of Olaniran’s personal life and struggles. Olaniran drew inspiration from comic books such as Marvel’s X-Men & New Mutants, music in a similar style to Beyonce’s Lemonade, and finally, tone and narratives of being Black in America inspired by Jordan Peele’s movies.

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The exhibition will be an extension of the film, with the installation focusing on an immersive experience with elements of the set and lighting. Moreover, Olaniran also worked with other Detroit-based artists to create scenography, costuming, and props for the project. Additionally, artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Ellen Rutt, Natasha Beste, Lisa Waud, Amy Fisher-Price, Emma Davis, Skyylar Taylor, Talicia Campbell, Matthew Osmon, and Terra Lockhart collaborated with Olaniran for the Made a Universe musical score.


Olaniran’s work includes music, dance, and performance art, which center around themes of Blackness, gender expression, class, agency, and emotional power. One of the renowned artists they’ve collaborated with is cellist Yo-Yo Ma. During their research residency in 2021 at the University of Michigan, Olaniran and Ma released a collaborative single called “Doorway.” Ma named Olaniran one of the most innovative artists of 2019. Some artists they’ve also worked with are Nick Cave, Esperanza Spalding, Mona Haydar, adrienne maree brown, and more. In addition, Olaniran won the 2021 Regional Emmy award for working on Backstage Pass for PBS. Some of their other notable accolades include being a 2017 and 2018 Art Matters Fellow, 2019 United States Artists Music Fellow, and more.

Tunde Olaniran: Made a Universe will be on display from June 18, 2022, to September 25, 2022. Click here to learn more.

Photography by: Steven Piper; Production still from the film: 'Made a Universe,' 2022 - Courtesy the artist