Celebrating African Art and Artisans, In Their Own Words

NOVICA’s West African artisans share their deeply personal stories about what their art means to them and why black art should matter to us all.
Ila Suleyman and his Leather and Bone Statement Cord Necklace, "Laami"
Ila Suleyman and his Leather and Bone Statement Cord Necklace, “Laami”

Ila Suleyman

“A proverb here in Africa says that, when you see your friend’s beard is burning, you don’t watch it burn, but help to quench the fire and put a pot of water beside yourself, as well, or dip your beard in the water. So it wouldn’t be sensible to consider Black Lives Matter a movement only for black people living in America. This is a global movement. I attempt to share my culture and pride as a black person and also communicate important messages through my jewelry, crafted to inspire those who love my art.”

K. Baka Handcrafted Signed Blue Batik Adinkra Scarf from Ghana, "Blue Gye Nyame"
K. Baka and Signed Batik Adinkra Scarf, “Blue Gye Nyame”

K. Baka

“I’m very proud and passionate about my roots and culture and I try to convey this in my paintings and batiks. To ensure the continuity of my culture, I have begun teaching art to promote it and educate others as a means of providing job skills to the youth. This is my way of contributing to the preservation of the African culture. This is how I understand my relationship to the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Akwele Sumah Handmade Orange Paper Recycled Earrings, "Heartfelt Smile"
Akwele Sumah and Paper Recycled Earrings, “Heartfelt Smile”

Akwele Sumah

“I have always lived as a proud black African who is very passionate about my culture. My works of art are a way of preserving my heritage. What happens to blacks and black communities in the U.S. happens all across the globe. We should be there for one another to stay strong. Be each other’s keeper and consider what concerns one as a concern for all. I use my art to address and educate people — especially other women — that we are all human and must treat others the way we want to be treated.”

Robert Aidoo-Taylor and Men's Hand Crafted Blue Cord Wristband Bracelet, "Kente Ocean"
Robert Aidoo-Taylor and Men’s Hand Crafted Blue Cord Wristband Bracelet, “Kente Ocean”

Robert Aidoo-Taylor

“I relate to the Black Lives Matter movement in the sense that every race needs one another. In as much as l portray the black race and culture in my own art, l apply modernism to my work, and by doing so, one can see other races or cultures speaking through my art. I wish to state in conclusion that racism is suicidal to every race and should therefore not be entertained.”
Edward Adeniran and Batik Wall Hanging with Cultural Motifs, "Our Customs"
Edward Adeniran and Batik Cotton Wall Hanging with Cultural Motifs from Ghana, “Our Customs”

Edward Adeniran

“Racism has existed from time immemorial. This makes it difficult for me to consider Black Lives Matter as an American movement. It is a global movement, considering the number of my black brothers and sisters scattered all over the world. I put my feelings into my works of art to echo the African voice, and promote our rich culture. Black lives matter. We are all equal.”

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