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Photos: Meet The Ethiopian Artist Behind Beyoncé's Stunning Maternity Shoot

Beyoncé enlisted Ethiopian photographer, Awol Erizku, for her Venus-inspired maternity shoot that broke the Internet.

Unless you've been residing under a rock, by now, you've heard that Beyoncé is pregnant with twins.


She shared the news of her pregnancy yesterday with a portrait of herself in front of a floral backdrop with green mesh adorning her head and stomach. Today, she released the full maternity shoot, and the rest of the pictures are just as stunning.

The striking viral photos are the handiwork of Ethiopian-American photographer and conceptual artist, Awol Erizku, who's long been on our radar thanks to projects like The Only Way is Up, which we featured back in 2014.

#Beyonce #Blue

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#Beyonce #Blue

A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beylite) on

#Beyonce #twins

A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beylite) on

#Beyonce

A photo posted by Beyoncé (@beylite) on

Much of the Los Angeles-based artist's earlier works placed Black subjects at the center of well-known Renaissance paintings.

Erizku took a similar direction with Beyoncé's shoot. The photos envision the singer as a Black (and beautiful) version of the Roman goddess Venus.

For his latest collection, I Was Going to Call It Your Name But You Didn’t Let Me, Erizku paired his paintings with curated mixes of the songs that inspired them. It showcased last year at Art Basel.

This isn't the first time that Beyoncé has looked to African artists for inspiration. The works of African creatives have been unmistakably present in many of her recent projects. On last year's Lemonade, she spotlighted Laolu Senbanjo's Sacred Art of the Ori and commissioned the writings of British-Somali poet Warsan Shire—who also wrote the Yoruba-inspired poem "I Have Three Hearts" that Beyoncé shared on her website to accompany the maternity photos.

Beyoncé's affinity for African creatives is no secret, and with the wealth of innovation and talent coming from this group of artists, it's not really a surprise either.

Check out more of Awol Erizku's work below.

 

 

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(Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney)

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The announcement came yesterday, when ABC shared the trailer of the special on their social media, even changing their Twitter name to "ABeyC" to mark the occasion. Beyoncé also shared the clip on Instagram—the surprise announcement has unsurprisingly spurred excited reactions from fans online.

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In "Hero" the singer pays homage to the Black Power and Civil Rights movements of the 1960s and 70s. The music video, directed by CC Wade references several Black leaders and some of the artist's personal heroes including Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, Martin Luther King Jr., Sam Cooke, Tupac Shakur, Marvin Gaye and more. It also depicts the FBI's often illegal efforts to stop Black movements and other anti-establishment groups through its Counterintelligence Program, as noted in Rolling Stone.

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"It is about our universal need to connect," says Bongeziwe in a press release. "It is about the togetherness in people and about the things that bind us and make us the same."

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