Atim Annette Oton is a Nigerian-born, American andBritish educated designer turned Curator whose maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s from Trinidad (grandfather) and Jamaica (grandmother) and lived in Harlem where her mother was born.
She founded Calabar Gallery in Harlem in 2016 and has expanded its focus from exhibitions to art auctions, art programming and art fairs. Oton is also an advisor to the David Prize and theAfrican Art Curator for AMREF Health Africa ARTBALL.
She spent her formative years in Calabar, Nigeria and studied architecture at the City College of New York and did graduate studies at the Architectural Association Graduate School in London, England. In NewYork, she worked in architecture and, by 2000, was part of the design team that won the African Burial Ground Interpretive Center. She worked as an executive producer on the Underground Railroad Experience, a cultural education website on the Underground Railroad and won an Independent Grant from the NYSCA for her work, the Black Hair Salon.
A founder of Blacklines Magazine, a quarterly magazine featuring black designers, she served as its executive vice president before joining Parsons School of Design as the Associate Chair of Product Design for 6years. In 2006, she stepped down from her role as the Associate Chair ofProduct Design at Parsons School of Design, working with black furniture designer Tony Whitfield, to concentrate on Calabar Magazine and Calabar Imports. After creating Calabar Imports in 2004, she has expanded the store to3 neighborhood locations in Brooklyn – Crown Heights, Bed Stuy and Harlem.
And 10 years later – she began the pivot to creating a gallery in its Harlem space, CALABAR, a venue for artists to innovate, sustain, grow and expand ideas, concepts, projects and leverage opportunities by the use of our space, networks and relationships, and a distinctive location in Harlem, New York.