Wiled Women: Kehinde Wiley’s “An Economy of Grace”

Nigerian-American portrait artist Kehinde Wiley’s newest collection, “An Economy of Grace,” opened to a packed house of artists and enthusiasts, all present for Wiley’s most significant transition to date: Female subjects and costuming in his portraiture. The exhibit is a collaboration with Givenchy designer, Riccardo Tisci, by whom the subjects were costumed in long gowns. "An Economy of Grace" is a highly anticipated departure from Wiley’s signature to-date portrayal of black males, often depicted in plain clothes per his "World Stage" series. The metamorphosis is ever important to the ongoing conversation of women of color as subjects in art. The collection, Wiley states, “attempts to reconcile the presence of black female stereotypes that surrounds their presence and/or absence in art history, and the notions of beauty, spectacle, and the ‘grand’ in painting.”

©2012 photo by Rameen Gasery for Gasery Gallery, LLC.

The women, all scouted and cast by Wiley personally on the streets of NYC, are portrayed in varied postures, a nod to portraits of society women by artists such as Jacques-Louis David, Thomas Gainsborough and John Singer Sargent. All of the paintings are underscored by a sense of activity. The women, -- some in pairs, others in repose -- seem to interact within their settings and background in a manner that previous subjects of his paintings did not. Nonetheless, they embody a familiar grandeur present in all his body of work; the women command your attention.

Check out “An Economy of Grace” now through June 16, 2012 at Sean Kelly Gallery, 528 West 29th Street, NYC. And, if you have not already, check out “The World Stage: Israel” up at the Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, NYC, through July 29, 2012.


Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Image

#EndSARS: 1 Year Later And It's Business As Usual For The Nigerian Government

Thousands filled the streets of Nigeria to remember those slain in The #LekkiTollGateMassacre...while the government insists it didn't happen.

This week marks 1 year since Nigerians began protests against police brutality and demanded an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The #EndSARS protests took the world by storm as we witnessed Nigerian forces abuse, harass and murder those fighting for a free nation. Reports of illegal detention, profiling, extortion, and extrajudicial killings followed the special task force's existence, forcing the government to demolish the unit on October 11th, 2020. However, protestors remained angered and desperate to be heard. It wasn't until October 20th, when soldiers opened fire on demonstrators at Lekki tollgate in the country's capital, Lagos, that the protests came to a fatal end. More than 56 deaths from across the country were reported, while hundreds more were traumatized as the Nigerian government continued to rule by force. The incident sparked global outrage as the Nigerian army refused to acknowledge or admit to firing shots at unarmed protesters in the dead of night.

It's a year later, and nothing has changed.

Young Nigerians claim to still face unnecessary and violent interactions with the police and none of the demands towards systemic changes have been met. Fisayo Soyombo the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, told Al Jazeera, "Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today," while maintaining that his organization has reported "scores" of cases of police brutality over this past year.

During October 2020's protests, Nigerian authorities turned a blind eye and insisted that the youth-led movement was anti-government and intended to overthrow the administration of current President Muhammadu Buhari. During a press conference on Wednesday, in an attempt to discredit the protests, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed hailed the Nigerian army and police forces for the role they played in the #EndSARS protests, going as far as to say that the Lekki Toll Massacre was a "phantom massacre with no bodies." These brazen claims came while protesters continued to gather in several major cities across the country. The minister even went on to shame CNN, Nigerian favorite DJ Switch as well as Amnesty International, for reporting deaths at Lekki. Mohammed pushed even further by saying, "The six soldiers and 37 policemen who died during the EndSARS protests are human beings with families, even though the human rights organizations and CNN simply ignored their deaths, choosing instead to trumpet a phantom massacre."

With the reports of abuse still coming out of the West African nation, an end to the struggle is not in sight. During Wednesday's protest, a journalist for the Daily Post was detained by Nigerian forces while covering the demonstrations.

According to the BBC, additional police units have been set up in the place of SARS, though some resurfacing SARS officers and allies claim to still be around.

Young Nigerians relied heavily on social media during the protests and returned this year to voice their opinions around the first anniversary of an experience that few will be lucky enough to forget.

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How CKay's 'Love Nwantiti' Became the World's Song

Nigerian singer and producer CKay talks to OkayAfrica about the rise of his international chart-topping single "Love Nwantiti," his genre-defying sound and the reasons behind this era of afrobeats dominance.