Thanks to LiveUnchained for starting off our #30WCR8 series. We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the beautiful work created by some of our favourite women creators. Today it’s our turn! Although we chose 30 this is by no means a definitive list, but a taster of the great work that we’ve come across and have been inspired by in recent years.
If you are reading this, you probably already appreciate how art captures what everyday language alone cannot express. For centuries, women across the world have used art as a tool to express their own radical truths despite the boxes, expectations or limitations other would impose on us and have us conform to. It’s in this spirit of freedom that The:nublk, African & Afro-Diasporan Art Talks and Live Unchained have come together to acknowledge 30 inspiring black women creators from across the diaspora.
We believe their art matters and can inspire cultural consumers to view themselves, their communities and women’s voices in new ways. The artists and creative works you’ll see over the next week are unique, provocative and captivating. Like the three organizers of this event, Kathryn, Sharon and myself, we know you won’t want to keep all this beauty to yourself. So, please spread the word and comment to let us know what you think!
Lakwena Maciver is a London based graphic artist who’s best known for her elaborate large-scale paintings and murals. Recently commissioned to create artwork for the now famous Red Bull stage at this year’s 50th Anniversary of Notting Hill Carnival, Lakwena’s bold graphic style can be seen across the globe from UK based Ghanian eatery Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen to Miami where she was part of the Art Basel 2013 ‘Women on the Walls’ collaborative project.She is also one half of Bros With Fros, a t-shirt collection that celebrates iconic hairstyles of Black men. Not just fashion for fashion’s sake the shirts also educate the wearer about the history of each haircut.
“Throughout history and in different cultures there have been particular materials, like gold, expensive dyes and particular colours that carried great significance and meaning, and were used to glorify gods, rich men and those that were considered beautiful women. I’m interested in how we use these signs to glorify things and people, and the myths that we use them to propagate.”
At just 20 years old, and despite currently studying a double major in Economics and International Development at university, Nigerian-Canadian Kosisochukwu Nnebe’s work is thought provoking and challenges the viewer to ask questions. These same questions inspired the young artist to begin an exploration of her own identity through a variety of artistic mediums. Nnebe’s passion for sparking discussion lead her to create ‘Coloured Conversations’ an online space using art to challenge certain aspects of society. Her most recent work M(other)nity was created by the artist’s desire to present a different vision of the black woman. The piece, which was a series of paintings on plexiglass, represented an examination of the concept of modernity – the manner in which it intersects with race and gender – and a re-interpretation of my position within it.
“For me, art has always been a tool of self-discovery and, in the past 2 years, has truly forced me to re-imagine the manner in which I perceive myself and the world around me. I’m interested in using art not only to highlight the beauty of the people and things around me, but also as a method of critique and redefinition.”
British born Ghanian Lesley Asare is a visual artist and co-founder of online platform ishapebeauty. The site, which is a collaborative project with poet Indigo Williams, aims to empower women to reclaim, define and own their sense of self through artistis projects and workshops. The pair were recently commissioned by The Body Narratives to create The Secrets Women Keep installation for their 3 day multidisciplinary art exhibition ”A Different Mirror.”
Wanting to create a safe space for women of colour to speak freely about their secrets the couple worked closely with 6 courageous women aged between 18-25, the pair guided the group to create a powerful visual arts installation that shared their journeys to owning their bodies. The final piece was a film that shared the participants’ experiences in the workshops, which was surrounded by a sacred semi circle of 6 islands that represented each woman. Each island displayed their poem, a personalised gum tape body sculpture and objects that symbolised their stories.
“I create solo and collaborative work through performance, installation and visual art and my work often explores the themes of identity, personal histories and the representation of women in contemporary culture. Fundamentally I am motivated by the desire to understand what it means to be human and passionately aim to create the space for self reflection, empowerment and healing.”
Visual artist Thomayra ‘Tee’ Fergus is making waves in the creative scene with her work. Travelling throughout the USA showcasing her solo work as well as collaborating with other artists, Ferguses work has garnered praise from the likes of veteran tattoo artist Miya Bailey and Erykah Badu.
Fergus, who resides in Toronto, was born on the Caribbean island of St Vincent. Through her work she seeks to put her intricate mark on whatever she lays her hands on whether that be a wall, canvas or human skin through her work as a tattoo artist
“My work is definitely inspired by my roots where I come from. My experiences and the experiences I’ve encountered through others. My Art is just my way of expressing how I really feel about society and the world we live Creating is my voice and through that I hope inspire others.”
Currently studying at Parsons New School of Design, artist and aspiring textile designer Jamila Okubu’s unique style of using colour and layered printing techniques to create vivid images rooted in Black culture are a nod to African textiles. Whilst acknowledging the historic struggle of her people, The DC native who is also of Kenyan heritage, uses her work as an artist to focus on a variety of different aspects of this history. She is currently working a handmade book of limited edition illustrations inspired by the theme of black love and relationships as well as collaborating with DJ Mistah Rapsey using the lyrics from his songs as a backdrop for a recent project entitled ‘Love, Life and Music.’
“I have been really inspired by people on Tumblr, and the beautiful young black folks in New York City. These Black New Yorkers are so effortlessly fly, and confidant and I really love that. That is who and what I want my work to embody, confident women and men of the Diaspora. I’ve always wanted to be a fashion Illustrator so I love being able to “style” my own looks and print designs in my illustrations, since I am still learning how to construct garments. But most importantly, the culture and history of my people inspire the themes of my work, I tend to move towards subjects that I want to explore, learn about, or have something to say about.”