Arts + Culture

NextGen: Zambian Illustrator NomesDee Creates an Alternate Universe of Confidence and Creativity

The next edition of our 'NextGen' series features Zambia's NomesDee—whose illustrations transport you to an alternate social media universe.

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 fourth edition, meet Zambian illustrator, NomesDee. 

Social media is one of the greatest creations to happen to our generation. It's helped us find our identities, by granting us the platform to orchestrate our own voices and images and sew it into the world wide web. Social media is basically a parallel reality we've created on our own.

What makes social media so enchanting, besides it being a place for us to create our own stories, learn new things and meet different people, is that we can explore new art forms and ideas. Instagram, in particular, is an art gallery beneath our fingertips. NomesDee (Naomi Doras) is one of many artists whose illustrations not only explores the beauty of engaging in social media, but acts as a destination where art and tech unite.

A post shared by NomesDee (@nomesdee) on

Hailing from Zambia, NomesDee explores the wonder, and weirdness, of social media in her whimsical, sensual illustrations. In her fantasies, women grace cotton candy clouds, have pairs of eyes (and third eyes) without pupils that penetrate your soul and serve flirty, confident poses like the ones I try to do when I'm taking a selfie.

A post shared by NomesDee (@nomesdee) on

NomesDee's protagonists sit pretty in indigo, turquoise, emerald and lavender skin, evolving the melanin movement to a rainbow-hued playground. She even recreates an intergalactic Earl Sweatshirt relaxing in a realm of floating Cup Noodles and hot sauce, like a modern Andy Warhol daydream.

A post shared by NomesDee (@nomesdee) on

Inspired by the attractive and expressive people on her timeline, NomesDee reinterprets social media as a literal alternate universe, where confidence and self-expression are essential to existing. This spin on social media allows us to appreciate how it’s influenced us to evolve as artistic, self-actualized beings: the creator learns from the creation.

A post shared by NomesDee (@nomesdee) on

What strikes me most about NomesDee’s art is that, well, I’ve encountered several black people who look and feel as otherworldly as her illustrations imagine them to be. We aren’t that far off from the magical realities that our fashion and beauty stimulates. "I feel art and social media allow for room to play, and in a sense social media allows more freedom as you don’t have to necessarily be the same person you were yesterday," she says in an interview at Hungertv. "...With this freedom and ability to connect, people are able to associate themselves with a wide range of ideas, and create new space for identities to evolve." Maybe one day, we'll have the technology to step into the worlds her illustrations awaken.

A post shared by NomesDee (@nomesdee) on

Photo by Meztli Yoalli Rodríguez

Dying Lagoons Reveal Mexico’s Environmental Racism

In the heart of a traditionally Black and Indigenous use area in Southwest Mexico, decades of environmental destruction now threatens the existence of these communities.

On an early morning in September 2017, in a little fishing village in the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, called Zapotalito, thousands of dead fish floated on the surface of the Chacahua-Pastoría lagoons. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake, which rattled Mexico City on September 19, was felt as far down as Zapotalito, and the very next morning, its Black, Indigenous and poor Mestizo residents, who depend on the area's handful of lagoons for food and commerce, woke up to an awful smell and that terrible scene of floating fish.

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