Arts + Culture

NextGen: Manzel Bowman's Digital Art Is a Perfect Fusion of Black Excellence and Space Travel

For digital artist Manzel Bowman, his work depicts black people flourishing in fantasy outside the norm that the world puts them in.

DIASPORAOver the course of July we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures." Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it. 


Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here.

Throughout this month, we'll also highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in our daily profile series, 'NextGen.'

In our third edition, we reached out to artist and creative, Manzel Bowman. 

In Manzel Bowman's digital masterpieces, black people are transported to outer space, are gigantic landscapes overseeing new countries and are deities painted in blue, gold, green and red—hues so hypnotizing that their pigments pop out of your phone screen. His images are so detailed, so enticing, that one can gaze into and create a mental story to accompany his visually arousing pieces.

Bowman exercises art as a tool for black empowerment, celebration, and a negation of harmful stereotypes applied to our race. "I am trying to bring about a correction to the misrepresentation of my people," Bowman tells us via email, "and the best way I can do that is by creating pieces and scenes daily to counter America's normative. I just want to see black people flourish the way they are supposed to!"

A post shared by MANZEL BOWMAN (@artxman) on

Bowman's art also recalls old school psychedelic album covers of Sun Ra, Jimi Hendrix and even Michael Jackson's "Dangerous." There are collages littered with Egyptian symbolism, planets, West African inspired statues and countless stars that stretch across the sky—or decorate women's faces like a confetti of freckles. There is a bond between black people and the unknown, the distant and the unseen, that Manzel's art articulates. Our spiritualities, consciousness, rebirths and reincarnations are sewn within the stars: laced across the sky like secret codes only we can decode—etched into mountains and spun around planets' orbits like infinite rites of passages.

A post shared by MANZEL BOWMAN (@artxman) on

Yet, Bowman seems modest about his Afrofuturistic masterpieces, even though his art swims in a sea of black fantasy, space travel and magical reality. "To be honest I'm not sure what Afrofuturism means to me, as I was unaware of the term until I had seen an article online featuring my work with Afrofuturism in it's title," he tells us. "I suppose it means to bring to light the interconnections of the past, present and future in an artistic manner representing people of African descent." Right on, brotha.

A post shared by MANZEL BOWMAN (@artxman) on

Check out a few more of our favorites from Bowman below:

A post shared by MANZEL BOWMAN (@artxman) on

A post shared by MANZEL BOWMAN (@artxman) on

A post shared by MANZEL BOWMAN (@artxman) on

A post shared by MANZEL BOWMAN (@artxman) on

News Brief
Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns (via Getty Images)

New Fela Kuti Reissues & Box Set Are Coming This Year

Partisan Records has shared initial news of upcoming Fela 50th anniversary reissues and a new box set on the way.

Fela Kuti fans have a lot to look forward to this year as Partisan Records (home to Fela's catalog) has announced plans to release special reissues of two 1971 albums: London Scene and Live! With Ginger Baker, the classic album in which Fela and his band Africa '70 where joined by the Cream drummer.

The label has also said they plan to release the fifth installment in their ongoing Fela vinyl reissue box set series, which are handpicked by notable names in the music world. Previous volumes have been curated by Erykah Badu, Questlove, and Brian Eno.

Partisan has also shared that they will also be launching a scholarship program at Fela's alma mater, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, in London this year. The label will be sharing more information on all of that exciting Fela Kuti 2021 news soon, so keep and eye out.

In the meantime, Fela Kuti is currently leading the fan vote for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You can head here to cast a daily ballot for the afrobeat legend. Voting is capped at one ballot per day.

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