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.
DIASPORA—Over 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!"
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.
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.
Check out a few more of our favorites from Bowman below: