Nina Akamu was born in Midwest City, Oklahoma. As the daughter of an Air Force serviceman, much of her childhood was spent living in Hawaii and the Far East. When her family moved to Japan at the age of 10, she spent her free time riding horses at an international English riding academy. These early experiences were fundamental in nurturing her curiosity, respect and love of horses and other animals.
1977 - Received her BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. It was only during her last year of college that she discovered sculpture, and understood immediately that it was her passion.
1979 - Moved to Florence, Italy to continue studies with her mentor Joseph Sheppard, an American painter specializing in drawing, anatomy and 17 century painting techniques of Italian and Flemish Masters. (For more information on Nina’s artistic training see www.traditionliveson.com) Akamu’s first 5 years were spent studying Italian Renaissance works of art in the Palazzo Pitti, Uffizi Gallery and the Bargello museum.
1981 - Accepted as a member of the prestigious National Sculpture Society, a sculpture organization created in 1893 by renowned American sculptors including Daniel Chester French, Augustus St. Gaudens, architect Stanford White and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany.
1984 - Moved to Pietrasanta, Italy a world-renowned environment for the creation and production of sculptural works. Living in an international artists’ community, she continued to produce her own sculptures while learning marble carving and bronze finishing from Italian craftsmen. During this time she rode horses who served as models for her sculptures. Her 12 years in Italy were dedicated to cultivating her aesthetic and tactile sensibilities as she pursued the highest levels of craftsmanship and professionalism in her field.
1990 - Moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Became the youngest NSS member to be elevated to Fellow status.
1994 - Moved to New York City.
1996 - Moved to Beacon, New York to work on the Da Vinci Horse project in Tallix foundry. She created the life-sized Master Model for the Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse project after extensive studies of Leonardo’s drawings and manuscripts. Her sculpture was used as the model for the creation of 2 1/2 half story tall tribute to the genius.
On September 10, 1999, Il Cavallo was dedicated in San Siro in Milan, Italy. A month later the second colossal sculpture was dedicated at Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Leonardo’s Horse was covered extensively by international press and media, making it the largest and most famous bronze horse sculpture in the world. Time Magazine Europe and Time Asia labeled it one of the Top Ten Designs of 1999.
In 2001 a life-sized LDV Horse bronze was donated and dedicated in the main square of Vinci, Italy, the birthplace of Leonardo.
2002 - The 14‘ tall centerpiece “The Golden Cranes” for the National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism was dedicated in Washington, DC. Placed 600 yards from our Nation’s Capital, it remains a powerful a symbol to all freedom loving people; it was awarded the prestigious Henry Hering Award by the National Sculpture Society in 2002.
In that same year, a 12’ LDV Horse bronze was dedicated in honor of Charles Dent at the Baum School of Art in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
2005 - Dowagiac, Michigan dedicated her 9’ tall sculpture entitled “Mount’n’View”, a humorous and symbolic sculpture of personal evolution.
The Milan International Film Festival (MIFF) began using a 5” silver Horse as their equivalent of the American Oscar award.
Since 2001, she has lived in Rhinebeck, New York.
She is presently serving as Vice President of the National Sculpture Society.
Nina Akamu’s international background and diverse experiences combine with her love of animals to serve as inspiration for her memorable sculptures and monuments. Her thirty year career has garnered her accolades from colleagues and awards from such prestigious organizations as the National Academy of Design, National Sculpture Society, Allied Artists of America, National Arts Club and Society of Animal Artists.
© Nina Akamu 2007