Archive | January, 2016

KESHA BRUCE makes For Harriet’s List of “10 Contemporary Black Women Visual Artists You Should Know”

21 Jan


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Mickalene Thomas, “Din Une Tres Belle Negresse 2,” 2011

by Nneka M. Okona

Carving out a space for themselves, their voices, their stories, their dedication to the craft of visual arts, this group of Black women, with varied interests and backgrounds, almost make it look effortless. These 10 brilliant Black women use their gifts and the allure of their artistry to explore a vast amount of subjects, issues and themes — sexuality, race, femininity, gender, history. And they do so in interesting, innovative ways.

Shantell Martin

Based in Brooklyn, Shanell’s artistry can best be described as telling the stories from her life using a black and white palette. Incorporating and transforming everyday items — walls, sneakers, luxury goods or any odds and ends — Shanell creates new masterpieces with her unique vision. To date, Shanell has collaborated with a number of brands, including 3×1 denim, Suno and Jaw and Bone.


Brianna McCarthy

On first glance at any of Brianna’s work, the first thing you’re sure to notice are the bright, loud colors which combine in a harmonious blend. This Trinidad & Tobago native, where she is also currently based, prides herself on that signature, one which she uses to examine and begin discourse on topics she deems important — beauty, stereotypes and representation. Her work takes the form of performance art, fabric collage, traditional media and installations.


Kara Walker

A bold expressionist who tackles the themes of history, power, race, repression and sexuality, Kara Walker is known for her trademark room size black cut paper silhouettes. In college and graduate school, she focused on painting, printmaking and overall design, although her work has taken many other forms, such as text, video, film, performance and cyclorama. Perhaps the most notable honor she received was a MacArthur Foundation genius grant, making her the second youngest person to ever receive it. Most recently, Kara’s much talked about exhibit “A Subtlety” appeared at the now demolished Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn.

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Renee Cox

Self-dubbed as one of the most controversial Black women working today, Renee doesn’t shy away from using her art as tool to inspire discourse on both racism and sexism. Two of her most reactionary pieces, perhaps, were “In It Shall be Named,” which depicted a Black man’s distorted body in elven separate pictures, hanging from a cross and “Yo Mama’s Last Supper,” a remake of the famous Leonardo Da Vinci piece with Renee nude as Jesus and all Black disciples except for Judas, shown as White.


Kesha Bruce

In a beautiful marriage of magical & spiritual belief, memory and personal mythology, Kesha Bruce explores those connections through her work. Some notable collections, such as “(Re)calling and (Re)telling”, use mixed media to combine personal experience, family mythologies and African American history; and “The Totem Series”, which displays narrative portraits of hybrid beings. Currently, she has permanent collections at The Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture and The University of Iowa Women’s Center, to name a few. Kesha lives and works in France.


Caitlin Cherry

Brooklyn-based Caitlin Cherry is most known for her large-scale installations in the Brooklyn-based museum Raw/Cooked series. In her project for the series entitled “Hero Safe”, Caitlin curated three paintings that drew upon Leonardo Da Vinci for inspiration. In each installation, there is a wood structure that acts as support for the painting present.

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Xaviera Simmons

Xaviera has always known on a soul level she wanted to be an artist, as she has always been a creator of something, even when being a midwife competed for her time. The breadth of her work touches on many types of visual artistry — installations, sculptures, photographs, videos and performances. Xaviera currently has several pieces on permanent collections, including at the High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia and the Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City.

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Mickalene Thomas

Femininity and beauty are the dominating themes present in Mickalene’s work, a New York City based artist. She routinely uses items such as rhinestones, acrylic and enamel to push her vision and to bring each of her pieces of art full circle. Mickalene cites Henri Matisse, Romare Bearden and Edourad Manet as inspiration which communicate her vision.


Akosua Adoma Owusu

A brilliant filmmaker, Akosua has made a name for herself in the filming scene. Akosua, who is Ghanian, to date has had her films appear in venues across the world, in festivals, museums, galleries and microcinemas. Most recently, her short film “Kwaku Ananse” was the winning film for Ghana at the 2013 Africa Movie Academy Awards for best film.


Wangechi Mutu

With each stroke and with each creation, Wangechi’s motivation is to challenge the notions of female sexuality, particularly the depiction of sexuality of African women. Wangechi, who was born in Kenya, isn’t afraid to push the envelope and combine the elements of painting and collage in her pieces.

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Nneka M. Okona is a writer based in Washington, DC. Visit her blog,, her website, or follow her tweets, @NisforNneka.

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Please contact Morton Fine Art for available artwork by KESHA BRUCE.
Morton Fine Art
1781 Florida Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 628-2787

OSI AUDU in ArtDaily

19 Jan
Exhibition of recent drawings by Osi Audu opens at Skoto Gallery

Self-Portrait No 1, 2016, graphite and pastel on paper mounted on canvas, 56 x 72 ins. Courtesy Skoto Gallery.


NEW YORK, NY.- Skoto Gallery presents New Portraits: Self in the Global Age, an exhibition of recent drawings by Osi Audu. Born in Nigeria, the artist was educated in that country and the United States. For over two decades now, he has maintained a strong professional presence in Korea, Japan, Great Britain, United States, Italy, Germany, Austria and Africa through highly acclaimed exhibitions of his paintings. His work is in several private and public collections including The British Museum; The Horniman Museum, London; Schmidt Bank, Bayreuth, Germany; The Iwalewa House, Germany, The Wellcome Trust Collection, London, The National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey. His work was included in the recently concluded 2015 Venice Biennale, in the collateral event exhibition – Frontiers Re-imagined at the Palazzo Grimani Museum in Venice.

This is his third solo exhibition at the gallery. The reception is on Thursday, January 14th, 6-8pm. The artist will be present.

Of Selfies and Shadow play: Osi Audu’s Self-Portrait
Osi Audu has the astute ability to break down complex ideas into simplified, visually appealing compositions. He has developed a unique vocabulary that emphasizes geometry, volume, tactility, and quality of the tromp l’oeil, in a career that spans nearly thirty years. Though on flat surface, his work appears three-dimensional. Solid black forms dominate the center of the picture plane. Some cast reverent shadows that taper to the edges of the paper or canvas. With voluminous architectural shapes composed of different parts but bound seamlessly by slick white lines in the new Self-Portrait series, Audu stretches the boundaries of abstraction, teasing the imagination. There is clarity of form that immediately casts a spell on the viewer. Yet Audu’s work does not give in to pedestrian interpretation. One must first acquaint oneself with the philosophy that informs his creative disposition in order to have a more meaningful encounter with the body of work. Though minimalist abstraction is a principal motivation, it is not abstraction for mere sake nor is the dualism (solids and shadows, black and grey) that is apparent in his oeuvre a mere visual device or creative flair. Both are conceptual armatures that help to advance an artistic position and the culturally-derived epistemology that grounds his work.

Audu’s aesthetics draws specifically upon the Yoruba ontology of dual consciousness centered on the human head. The head (ori) is a bifurcated ensemble that best represents the intertwining of spirit and matter, mind and body. Orí inú (invisible or inner head) is the locus of consciousness, an a priori that gives substance to being. Orí òde (outer or tangible head), the physical manifestation of consciousness, is a vehicle of perception, identity, and interaction with reality. It is this dialogic imagining of beingness, of the human self, that Audu translates on white paper and canvas, using black pastel, graphite, primary colors, wool, among other media. His use of black monochrome holds pertinent symbolic value. It ramifies the cultural vicissitudes of blackness as well as outlines Audu’s position of engagement in an art world that is burdened by a historical legacy of excluding or de-legitimizing black artists who claim the arcane language of abstraction.

In previous solo exhibitions at Skoto Gallery such as Osi Audu: Ile Ori/Ori Ile (House of the Head/Head of the House) in 2006, the head is addressed as a metaphor of collective consciousness. Audu explores the head as a cognitive altar that dictates the cycle of life and human responses to existential conditions. Conversely, the current exhibition titled New Portraits: Self in the Global Age focuses on the autonomous self, shifting emphasis from collective consciousness to the singular being as unit of sensation. It comprises of eighteen works from the ongoing Self-Portrait series. They push Audu’s fastidious formalism, complex forms, and geometric abstraction further albeit in a different direction. Conceptually, one might speak of them as selfies, those totems that feed the narcissist cult of the individual, very symptomatic of our contemporary world.

Yet we are admonished not to think of the works as portraits in a physiognomic sense. Instead, they are reflections on the ways in which the individual negotiates his/her being in the world. Following Maurice Merleau-Ponty, they are the artist’s attempts to distill perception, by relating and piecing together the spectacles of his own world in relation to the world at large. It is the interior-self that forms the basis of rootedness; the source of identity and personhood. As such, Audu casts his gaze inward, to his Orí inú, the seat of consciousness where memories also reside; reconciling it with his Orí òde, the vessel that bears out his past and present experiences, of growing up and studying in Nigeria, living in the United Kingdom, and current domicile in New York. Altogether, the works capture Audu’s attempt to find himself in a teleological world that is mediated by relations. Ultimately, what lies at the core of this new body of work is a phenomenological awareness of being part of a globalized reality, marked by changing conditions, cultural exchanges on a planetary scale, and a network of disjunctive and constitutive references.

Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi
Artist, Art Historian, and Curator of African Art
Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

MAYA FREELON ASANTE’s amazing artwork featured in Fine Art Focus on Design Sponge

12 Jan

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Over the past 12 years of blogging here at Design*Sponge, I’ve read and written about thousands of artists and designers. A small handful will always stand out to me for their innovation and bold choices in color and technique, but few have made a mark as powerful as mixed-media artist,Maya Freelon Asante.

Maya is based in Baltimore, MD where she creates absolutely breathtaking installations using tissue paper. After talking last week about the way tissue paper can be used to create things like paper flowers, I love seeing how such a beautiful but humble material can be transformed into something as significant and moving as these pieces that Maya crafts. Back in 2005, Maya discovered a stack of tissue paper in her grandmother’s basement. Water in the basement had leaked into the paper and left a “bleeding” stain that so transfixed Maya that she decided to change her artistic focus to create work with this type of paper. Maya’s work has been shown internationally and is now displayed in the collections of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum and the U.S. State Department. Read on below to learn more about her gorgeous artwork. xo, grace

Artist: Maya Freelon Asante
About: Maya lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her BA from Lafayette College and her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Work: Maya is a mixed-media artist who makes stunning, abstract sculptures and installations from tissue paper. Her work was described as, “visualizing the truth about the vulnerability and power of the human being,” by Maya Angelou.
More: You can read more about Maya’s work here, here, here, here andhere.

All artwork (c) Maya Freelon Asante. Images via Portrait by Greg Powers.


  1. These images are stunning! I’m smitten with the green piece, and I bet they’re even lovelier in person. And always love seeing artists from my hometown!

  2. Absolutely gorgeous art. It looks like it has so much depth. These would be the perfect starting point for any room design!

    Click HERE to view the article in full.


    Contact Morton Fine Art for details and pricing for these featured artworks and others by MAYA FREELON ASANTE., , (202) 628-2787