Arts + Culture
Nyugen Smith's 'Lest We Forget.' Via the artist's Instagram page.

5 Black Artists You Can't Miss at Prizm Art Fair

In its 5th edition, Prizm spotlights "Universal Belonging" in the African diaspora.

Africa's contemporary art and cultural boom remains a major topic of global discussion, and some of its diasporic wave permeated through Art Basel and Miami Art Week. Extended dates for Prizm Art Fair keeps the party going until December 17th.

The international community––aficionados, gallerists, artists, curators and deep-pocket collectors––continue to swarm the Magic City, clamoring for unique art fairs and exhibitions and stalking around 268 galleries from 32 countries. But forward-thinking partygoers, especially cultural seekers, will need to explore beyond the oft-lauded glamour of Miami Beach; ancillary social gatherings, cross-cultural pop-up shows, and satellite fairs illustrated the dynamic local scene throughout Dade County. Mikhaile Solomon, founder and director of the highly anticipated Prizm Art Fair, is leading the pack with an eye-opening cultural exchange.

Prizm, which coincides with Miami Art Week, sparks conversations surrounding "universal belonging" and examines Africa and its diaspora through a "transcultural dialogue." Prizm spotlights the works from underrepresented and established artists of color, who reflect global trends in contemporary art and challenges mainstream interpretations through four special sections: Prizm Preview, Prizm Panels, Prizm Film, and Prizm Perform.

Here are 5 black artists you need to experience at Prizm.

1. Sheena Rose

Sheena Rose is a provocative multimedia and performance artist from Barbados. She interrogates Barbadian culture, test boundaries, and challenges the inner-workings of personal and public spaces through her drawings and paintings. "I find that people get uncomfortable," says the former Fulbright scholar, in her interview with The New York Times. "But they say that it is refreshing because Barbados is a very conservative space."

2. Nyugen Smith

Nyugen Smith is an interdisciplinary artist of Trinidadian and Haitian descent, whose work embodies a piercing examination of imperialism, post-colonial history, sociopolitical resistance, and the undying reclamation of cultural roots within the African diaspora. A Seton Hall University graduate, Smith's work is also multilayered; it requires the audience to challenge how we communicate struggle.

"While exposing audiences to concealed narratives, he aims to destabilize constructed frameworks from which this conversation is often held."

3. Louise Mandumbwa

Louise Mandumbwa, the young visual artist and graphic designer from Francistown, Botswana, is a brilliant art student at Pulaski Tech in Arkansas––she's making her debut at Prizm Art Fair. There is an emphasis on portraits––drawings and paintings which draw the audience to their eyes and sparks curiosity about their backstory.

The Motswana artist explains, in a video profile piece, two motivating factors behind her work: "Sociopolitical issues along with the human condition are two of the things that motivate me the most in my work."

4. T. Eliott Mansa

T. Eliott Mansa, a Miami native and graduate of Yale's School of Art, is a community-influenced artist whose paintings and sculptures explore personal introspection, autobiographical narratives, socioeconomics, and fragile human relationships. There is a quest to spark an everlasting dialogue about one's sense of being.

"I paint as if the painting will change the world by changing the mind of the viewer, he says, during a Cookmixmingle interview. "But that is my own conceit."

5. ​Leslie Hewitt

Leslie Hewitt, through a concerted merging of photography, sculpture, and installations, explores the ways in which collective memory shapes societal narratives and personal experiences—images, some with content, rest within wooden frames, which often re-frame a particular kind of historical African-American dialogue.

Hewitt earned a BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York and an MFA in sculpture from Yale University.

For more on Prizm Art Fair and complete list of artists', check out their website. The fair runs from now through December 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 145 East Flagler Street Miami, FL 33131.


7 Gengetone Acts You Need to Check Out

The streets speak gengetone: Kenya's gengetone sound is reverberating across East Africa and the world, get to know its main purveyors.

Sailors' "Wamlambez!"Wamlambez!" which roughly translates to "those who lick," is the cry the reverberated round the world, pushing the gengetone sound to the global stage. The response "wamnyonyez" roughly translates to "those who suck" and that should tell you all you need to know about the genre.

Known for its lewd lyrics and repetitive (often call and response) hooks, gengetone makes no apologies for belonging to the streets. First of all, most artists that create gengetone are grouped into bands with a few outliers like Zzero Sufuri riding solo. The songs themselves often feature a multiplicity of voices with screams and crowds coming through as ad libs, adding to this idea that this is definitely "outside" music.

Listening to Ethic's Odi wa Muranga play with his vocal on the track "Thao" it's easy to think that this is the first, but gengetone fits snuggly in a history of sheng rap based on the kapuka style beat. Kapuka is onomatopoeically named, the beats have that repetitive drum-hat-drum skip that sounds like pu-ka-pu-ka-pu. Artists like Nonini were asking women to come over using this riff long before Ochungulo family told them to stay home if they aren't willing to give it up.

Here's seven gengetone groups worth listening to.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Former President of Botswana Ian Khama Condemns Zimbabwean Government

Former Botswana President Ian Khama has condemned Zimbabwe's government and joined solidarity with #ZimbabweanLivesMatter.