Out of South Africa comes Mary Sibande recognized for her project called, Long Live the Dead Queen.The exhibition revolves around a character named Sophie Ntombikayise, a maid inspired from her personal family history of four generations involved in domestic work.
“Sophie’s eyes are always closed as she dreams and desires things that a maid and her family never had. Sibande created the figure in order to pay tribute to her mother, grandmother and her great-grandmother in a four figure sculpture series. In this, Sibande too becomes the maid, crafting the history of the women in her family.”
Artist Statement Tamara has always felt a connection to ‘everyday folk’, the working class, the unseen and unheard, the true warriors of our time. She realized, however, that many people who may have suffered through a similar struggle, did not want to revisit those struggles. With great thought and consideration for her message, she decided to amend her ideas. Inspired, by the golden period of Gustav Klimt and images of royalty from Egypt and West Africa; she decided to turn regular folk into representations of nobility. It seemed, in her view, to be the only way to allow them to be represented and appreciated for who they were intrinsically; kings, queens and warriors, in their own right, who never had a chance to shine, their austere appearance setting the tone for others to judge them. The embellishments with rich fabrics and gold present an opportunity for these people to be seen. The quilted clothing have a double meaning, on one hand representing a sense of distinction, while also allowing for a bit of nostalgia. The birds in the pieces represent a sense of freedom. It was her way of injecting her personal experiences into each painting and remembering her escape and survival from illness and the dialysis machine.
“Most often spotted alongside the pier, armed only with a spade, their hands and imagination, the sand-artists spend their days creating marvellous works of art for public admiration in the hopes of a steady stream of donations as this is often their only means of survival. Passers-by sometimes offer extra money so they can be photographed with these works of art, some of which can take up to a week to complete depending on size and detail, only to be destroyed in minutes. So why do their creators make them? Some of these guys are homeless teenagers - sculpting often means they don’t have to go to bed on an empty stomach. For others, the money they make is used to travel to and from home, or to pay for shelter for the night.” (Source)
[Hana] When I first came across Jamilla Okubo’s work, I felt an instant joy. Bright, colourful and bold with the use of African prints, her pieces offer both a celebration and a reclamation of black bodies. Today Jamilla tells us more about what inspires her and the stories she wants to tell through her prints and illustrations.
1.Tell us a little about your work?
I really enjoy working with an array of mediums such as painting, digital/hand-painted prints, garments, and collaging. Color is definitely a key element in my work as well as prints. My work mainly focuses on subjects of the Diaspora because I just love the beauty within our culture and people. I just feel as though it is my duty to remind people of color that we have such a rich culture, and that we should love ourselves and one another. So I strive for my work to have a balance of conceptuality and beauty. These are two quotes that I live by when it comes to creating artwork:
“The role of the artist is exactly the same as the role of the lover. If i love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you don’t see.”- James Baldwin
“The black artist is dangerous. Black art controls the “Negro’s” reality, negates negative influences, and creates positive images.”- Sonia Sanchez
2. What inspires you and what is your process?
I am heavily inspired by my background culture and experiences in life. My work is heavily fired by my emotions as well. Whether I am passionate or really angry about something, I use those feelings as an advantage to create from the heart and express myself. I am also inspired by other cultures. Being able to interact with people from all over the world and experience other cultures is a blessing.
Depending on the project that I am working on, I may gather inspiration photos from the internet or books, and create a moodboard (it’s a habit that I got from school, specifically fashion). Majority of the time I will randomly get inspired, whether it is from a movie or an incident that I saw on the news, I immediately start creating. I have a very odd way of working because, a lot of people always tell me “you work so much”, “you’re always creating something”, or “how do you have so much time to create?” Honestly I don’t!. When an idea sparks I immediately stop whatever I am doing and create what I envisioned at that moment.
3. Textile prints seem to play a key part in your prints and illustrations. What does this mean to you and is it telling of your own journey?
While attending Duke Ellington School of the Arts I was to create a 15-painting themed series for my senior year. As I found myself searching for inspiration I came across Africa Fashion Week NY for the first time. The textiles, beautiful african models, and vibrant expression of a culture I had been long disconnected from - struck a chord in me. From this I began my wandering - an earnest exploration of my history and ancestors. Blessed by a teacher by the name of Stanley Squirewell, seeing the fire in me as a young person, introduced me to a host of artists that continue to inspire me today: Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Wangenchi Mutu, Hank Willis Thomas, etc. I played with how to take these narratives of blackness and interpret them through my work, my craft.
4. As a designer, what does the body mean to you?
As a designer, the body is an external way to express oneself. Also, being able to interpret and express your inner self through clothing and accessories is a wonderful thing. It gives all people the opportunity to treat their body as a canvas and not have to worry about others perceptions or opinions. The body provides a landscape on which my aesthetic inevitable conclusions come to life.
5. What can we look out for in 2014?
Well hopefully if all goes as planned, I am working on having my second solo art show in June. But as of now I am focusing on school, so you will of course see what I am working on throughout the semester. I always find a way to link my school projects with my own work. I cannot speak of all that I am planning on doing because I don’t want to jinx myself. Just know that I am always working on something!
Aspiring Textile designer, Jamilla Okubo, is an 20-year old African-American/Kenyan native from Washington, D.C. She is currently studying Integrated Fashion Design at Parsons the New School for Design. Jamilla’s prints invoke a life and sophistication in them. Constantly utilizing the vibrancies of African textiles to her advantage with color ways that would put a smile to both the viewer and wearer. Where her work gains depth lays in the subject matter of the prints. The prints, fun as they may be, acknowledge a deeper struggle which is rooted in black culture. She acknowledges the history, but similar to an upbeat song about heartbreak decides to shine a different light on the situation by claiming the story back for herself.
Having done work for the likes of Cee Lo Green and Snoop Dogg, Haitian-born Serge Gay Jr is an accomplished graphic artist whose paintings are influenced by popular culture. On his work, he says, “ I love to showcase that journey from being born a Haitian then moving to America in the hopes of “the” American life at the age of three and the changes that comes along with that. Coming from a small island to the big New York, then later to Miami, that journey, having to adjust and trying to find ways to fit in. It made a good story for my art. English was not my first language; therefore art became my new way to communicate.”
Kasagga Jude’s work is caricature, expressionism or abstraction. Whatever the interpretation, he’s definitely a name to look out for, combining oils with fabrics to create vivid images that defy categorisation.
1. Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (The Whispering Trees) Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, born in Jos, Nigeria, writes prose, poetry and drama. His debut collection of short stories The Whispering Trees, published by Paressia, was longlisted for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for African Literature, and the title story shortlisted for the 2013 Caine Prize for African Writing. His was the only story published on the continent to be shortlisted for the Caine Prize that year. He is the arts editor at the Abuja-based Sunday Trust. He was a mentor on the 2013 Writivism programme, facilitated the Abuja Writivism workshop in 2014 and judged the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize. He also facilitated the Caine Short Story surgery at the 2014 Port Harcourt Book Festival.
2. Chika Unigwe (Night Dancer) Chika Unigwe, born in Enugu, Nigeria, writes fiction in English and Dutch. She was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2003 and won the BBC Short Story competition and the Commonwealth Short Story competition in 2004. Her debut novel De Feniks, written in Dutch and published in 2005, was shortlisted for the Vrouw en Kultuur debuutprijs prize. It was later published in Nigeria by Farafina Publishers in 2007 as The Phoenix. In 2009, her novel On Black Sisters’ Street was published by Jonathan Cape and won the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2012.
3. Dilman Dila (A Killing in the Sun) Dilman Dila, born in Tororo, Uganda, writes fiction and makes films. He was longlisted for the Short Story Day Africa prize in 2013 and 2014, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story prize in 2013 for A Killing in the Sun, and nominated for the 2008 Million Writers Awards. He has also been longlisted for the BBC International Radio Playwriting Competition for Toilets are for Something Fishy. His film Felista’s Fables has won and been nominated for various awards, from the Uganda Film Festival awards to the Africa Movie Academy Awards and the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards. His short story collection A Killing in the Sun was published in 2014 by Black Letter Media. His novella Cranes Crest at Sunset was published by Storymoja in 2013 andThe Terminal Move by Fox and Raven Publishing also in 2013.
4. Emmanuel Sigauke (Mukoma’s Marriage and other stories) Emmanuel Sigauke, born in Zimbabwe writes fiction and poetry. He teaches English at Cosumnes River College and Creative Writing at University of Carlifornia Davis. His work has appeared in Horizon, The Pedestal, NR Review, African Writing Online, StoryTime, Tsotso, The Rattle Review, and Arts Initiates, among others. He edits Tule Review, Cosumnes River Journal, and Poetry Now and founded Munyori Literary Journal. Mukoma’s Marriage and other stories, published in 2014, is his first collection of short stories.
6. Melissa Kiguwa (Reveries of Longing) Melissa Kiguwa describes herself as “an artist, a daughter, and a radical feminist.” Her debut collection of poetry, Reveries of Longing, was published in 2014 by African Perspectives. She was long-listed for the 2014 Writivism Short story prize for the story The Wound of Shrinking. She now studies at the London School of Economics.
5. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Kintu) Jennifer Makumbi, born in Uganda is a novelist and short story writer. She won the inaugural Kwani? Manuscript prize in 2013. Kwani Trust went on to publish the novel Kintu in 2014. In the same year, she won the Commonwealth short story prize with Let us Tell This Story Properly. Her other short fiction has been published by African Writing Online, Granta, Moss Side Stories, among others. She studied at Manchester Metropolitan University and Lancaster University for her Masters and Doctoral degrees respectively.
9. Zukiswa Wanner (London Cape Town Joburg) Zukiswa Wanner, born in Zambia to a South African father and a Zimbabwean mother, is a writer. Her debut novel, The Madams, was shortlisted for the K. Sello Duiker Award in 2007. It was followed by Behind Every Successful Man, published by Kwela in 2008, Men of the South, also by the same publisher in 2010. Men of the South was shortlisted for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Her latest novel, London Cape Town Joburg, was published by Kwela in 2014. She was named one of the Hay Festival’s Africa39 authors. She sits on the Writivism Board of Trustees and started the ReadSA initiative to encourage South Africans to read African books.
7. Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (Shadows) Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, born in Zimbabwe, is a fiction writer. Her debut novella and collection of short stories was published by Kwela in 2013. Her stories have appeared in various publications, including the 2010 Caine Prize Anthology and African Roar. She won the 2009 Yvonne Vera Award and the Herman Charles Bosman Prize for English Fiction with Shadows. She is currently a Maytag Fellow at the MFA Creative Writing Programme at the University of Iowa and one of the 39 writers named by the Hay Festival as potential influences on future African Literature.
8. Yewande Omotoso (Bom Boy) Yewande Omotoso, born in Barbados to a Nigerian father and a West Indian mother, is a writer and an architect. Her debut novel Bom Boy, published in 2011 by Modjaji Books, won the 2012 South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author, was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize in South Africa as well as the M-Net Literary Awards 2012, and was the runner-up for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature. (source)
Dressed in all white by Nigerian designer Sally Bawa, myself along with other fantastic ladies graced the cover of The Guardian Life Magazine. Still being a bit of a newbie to Lagos, I didn’t recognize any of the faces I shot with! But with a little bit of research, it was a discovered pleasure to have posed with such talented and hard-working women that I really ought to get better acquainted with! Of course, the online Naija world was slightly buzzing with questions of, “Who is this girl next to our famed stars?”, “What gives her the right?”, “What’s wrong with her hair?” (yes, that question!), but I’m glad that the creative minds behind the article chose to focus on the work of women and not their popularity (not completely, at least)!
Life Magazine: What has been the high point of your career?
Y: As I am still starting out in my career, I haven’t reached any sort of pinnacle quite yet! I have moments of gratitude and feelings of accomplishment when I am simply recognized for what I have already done. The high points are when strangers walk up to me and commend my work with kind words or a handshake. When young women send me thank you messages about how much my videos or my writing has helped them. Honestly, it’s all an ego boost. But the right kind of ego boost. The kind that makes you want to keep doing good.
LM: What has been the lowest so far?
Y: Low points come and go. They come in the form of self-doubt and not reaching set personal goals.
LM: What does being a new generation woman mean to you?
Y: “New generation woman” sounds so exclusive! The new generation women are all around us. New generation woman means potential. It is every woman living in today’s day and age, daring to go forward with their dreams, regardless of the obstacles they face in their respective passions. I’m able to pursue my dreams because my parents worked hard to grant their children certain privileges. I got to finish my education overseas where I discovered my passion for social causes and the arts. As glorious as it would sound, I didn’t get here on my own. I want to work as hard as possible to become successful and open doors for the next generation of women to succeed.
Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu in his art studio in Ikoyi, suburb of Lagos, Nigeria 1959.
Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu (1921-1994) is the most renowned Nigerian artist of the 20th century. Already in 1937 Enwonwu held his first exhibition in London and drew favorable attention.
Twenty years later he became known as the sculptor who had been officially commissioned by the British court to make a bronze bust of Queen Elizabeth II. Enwonwu´s creations use, on the one hand, the forms and hues of classical modernism and, on the other, the formal principles of West African tribal art.