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Photo by O'kiins Howara

"African Créative," 2020.

Spotlight: O'kiins Howara Creates Technicolor Images of His Surroundings With a Smartphone

Get familiar with the work of the Ivorian photographer and visual artist O'kiins Howara.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Ouattara Moussa Idriss Mahaman also known as O'kiins Howara, a self-taught Ivorian photographer and visual artist who works exclusively with his smartphone to bring bright, fashion-forward depictions of Africans to life. Read more about the inspirations behind his work below, and check out some of his stunning images underneath. Be sure to keep up with the artist on Instagram and Twitter.


Their responses have have been edited for length and clarity.

Describe your background as an artist briefly and what led you to become a photographer?

As an artist I touch on several artistic domains: music, drawing, writing, but I did not consider myself an artist until I discovered a love for photos. What led me to photography, I would say, is my way of conceiving things, I wanted to bring to life what I made in my mind.

What are the central themes in your work?

The central theme in my work is often to [express] the beauty of Africa through its cultural riches. I also denounce certain evils that affect society.

Can you talk about how you use and interpret color in your work?

Colors are for me an essential element for the beauty and the originality of the photo, I use color to bring life to the photo.

How has the current pandemic affected you as a creator?

It has not affected my work that much, but it should be noted however, that there is less contact with the outside world. Since I often work with other models and props, I can't have all the accessories I want, as well as all the [other] elements necessary for the composition. But I try to do my best to always create.

"False System," 2019

Photo by O'kiins Howara

"Breath," 2020.

Photo by O'kiins Howara

"Color," 2019.

Photo by O'kiins Howara

"Behind M'y self," 2020

Photo by O'kiins Howara

Interview

Malian Rapper Ami Yerewolo Rises Against All Odds

Ami Yerewolo reflects on her hard-won rap career, new album AY and why she insists on creating support spaces for young female rappers in Mali and beyond.

"No one is a prophet in his or her own land!" This is an accurate way to describe Ami Yerewolo's career to a tee. The Malian rapper's music has not always been popular in her home country, where female rappers are generally frowned upon. Instead, it has taken off abroad. Yerewolo's upbeat sound mixes traditional Malian elements with fast drums, contemporary beats and significant lyrics that compel listeners to reflect on life — all of which makes her songs carry a universal appeal. Her new album, AY (titled after the rapper's initials) has just been released by the label Othentiq.

Yerewolo shares her frank thoughts below...

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