Hââbré is the same word for writing / scarification” in Kô language from Burkina faso.

Scarification is the practice of performing a superficial incision in the human skin. This practice is disappearing due to the pressure of religious and state authorities, urban practices and the introduction of clothing in tribes. Nowadays, only the older people wear scarifications. During my research, all I found were pictures from the beginning of the century, and only a few contemporary images. I also had trouble finding people to photograph because of their rarity. I used Studio portraits with the same background and same lighting to portray them in a neutral kind of way.

No excuse, no judgement.

This fact leads us to question the link between past and present, and self-image depending on a given environment. Opinions (sometimes conflicting) of our witnesses illustrate the complexity of African identity today in a contemporary Africa torn between its past and its future. This “last generation” of people bearing the imprint of the past on their faces, went from being the norm and having a high social value to being somewhat “excluded”. They are slowly becoming the last generation of scarified african people, living in the same city / Abidjan. They are the last witnesses of an Africa of a bygone era. 

Joana Choumali, born in 1974, is a fine art photographer based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. She studied Graphic Arts in Casablanca (Morocco) and worked as an Art Director in an advertising agency before embarking on her photography career. 

She works primarily on conceptual portraiture, mixed media and documentary. She uses her photography to explore her own identity. Much of her work focuses on Africa, and what she, as an African, is learning about the myriad cultures around her. Her work allows her to explore assumptions she has and nourishes her as she expands her conceptions of the world. 

Atong Atem

Atong Atem is a South Sudanese artist and writer from Bor living in Narrm Melbourne. Her work explores postcolonial practices in the diaspora, the relationship between public and private spaces and the politics of looking and being looked at.

connect with atong atem:

website | instagram

Yagazie Emezie's images from Liberia

Currently covering education for at risk girls in Liberia with More Than Me, an organisation that provides free education to the most vulnerable.

Along the way, I have also been documenting the historic Partnership Schools of Liberia in which government has teamed up with independent organisations to provide quality education across the country.
— yagazie emezie

you can check out more of yagazie's work via her website, instagram and tumblr. 

Shannon Wallace - #BLVKBLUE series

Being black means to be strong, to be powerful, to believe and know we are the original people. And as black people it’s important we overcome the oppression against us.
Being black means constantly defining yourself in a world that wants to define you for you.
Being black means to be strong, to be powerful, to believe and know we are the original people. And as black people it’s important we overcome the oppression against us.

What does being black mean to you? This is the question Shannon Wallace is asking the subjects of her newest series #BLVBLUE.

check out her full series. 

Seydou Keïta's portraits of women

Seydou Keïta was a malian photographer who photographs portrayed bamako society during it's transition from a french colony to an independent capital. he is mostly known for his portraits of people and families he took between 1940 and early 1960s. his work is acknowledged as a record of malian society and pieces of art. 

Art Accra International Art Fair

Art Accra is a premier international art fair opening with a debut from Dec 8 – 10, 2016 in Ghana. The fair is designed to exhibit the best of art from across the globe with over 25 galleries, and a 3 day program of engaging workshops.

The fair will serve as an art economic hub attracting art collectors from both the continent and visiting from beyond Africa. In addition, Art Accra will provide an immersive experience, set on the beaches of La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra.

I recently chatted with the Founder and Managing Director of Art Accra, Sharon Obuobi. 

Tell me how Art Accra came about. What was the thought process when deciding to create this?

Art Accra started from a desire to impact the world using my background in business and a passion for the arts. I had tried different avenues to pursue a career in the arts, and after realizing that I had to stop asking permission from the world and just be brave. So I began to ask myself how I would impact the world if I had the resources to do it, and that's how the idea for Art Accra came about. 

Why is Art Accra so important to the continent specifically Accra? What is it necessary that we have a global art fair like this one?

Art Accra is important because we are offering Africa the opportunity to contribute to the global art market in a bigger way. As a global art fair we are advancing the art market in West Africa, and establishing a stronger link between Accra and the globe. Many of the established African artists we know had to emigrate elsewhere to have access to more opportunities. We want to change that by serving as a connection between art collectors, dealers and artists on the continent. 

Art Accra is opening in December, what is your vision for it? what do you want people to take away from it?

Our vision is to leave a lasting impression on attendees and collectors, with an immersive experience that gives participants view into the global art landscape. For international galleries and collectors visiting Accra, we want to present the city as a tourist destination and showcase the rich cultural arts we have.

What are some of the challenges you all have faced through the planning phase?

It's been a long planning phase leading up to this point. We worked on the foundation for at least a year before publicizing and officially announcing Art Accra this May. Our challenges are what you'd expect, from logistical to financial, but it's been a great learning experience in problem solving. I expect the challenges so I don't let them keep me down. It helps that I'm passionate about this and the impact it will make.

What are the responses you've received from the community? has it been positive/negative?

It's funny, people often tell me how brave I am for creating such an "ambitious" project. But for me, there's no other way. It's worth a try. We are doing everything I can to make it happen. We have had a lot of positive feedback and it's exciting to see that the community is looking forward to our opening.

How will Art Accra impact + benefit local artists?

Art Accra will benefit local artists by giving them access to a wide range of international galleries visiting Accra to engage with collectors and influencers. It's a great opportunity to get to know these galleries and build connections. It's also an excellent chance to see the kind of work being exhibited on a global scale. Our program of panels will explore pertinent topics of discussion in the arts. So it's also a chance to ask questions and engage in critical conversations about art.

How can people participate in this and support Art Accra?

Anyone can participate by purchasing our official t shirts and tote bags to support us, particularly as we get this off the ground. We've partnered with artists Neals Niat and Dennis Osadebe to create fashionable items that you'll be proud to wear and share. 

If you're able to visit Accra or are in Accra, be sure to attend our gala and the fair. The gala will be recognizing top influencers in the arts. Follow us on social media for exciting updates on Instagram (@artaccra), Twitter (@artaccra), and Facebook (Art Accra).



Ojo Agi | Daughters of Diaspora

About the artist:

Ojo Agi (b.1992) is a self taught Nigerian artist born and raised in Canada.

She uses her art to demonstrate that women of colour are more multi-faceted than stereotypes suggest. Her artwork illustrates the sensitivity and complexity that is typically silenced on brown bodies. She aims to show that brown is beautiful, diverse and empowering; but also use each piece as an opportunity to learn and un-learn what is beautiful to her.

She works predominantly with art markers and acrylic paint, though she experiments with other mediums frequently. Whether a piece takes days or weeks to complete, potent emotions and delicate details permeate her work. Her greatest hope as an artist is to tell stories that people of any background can identify with.

She is currently based in Ottawa, Canada.

website | instagram

Josh Sessoms

Josh Sessoms is a contemporary artist with work that merges ancient science, spirituality and philosophy. Through his visual art, Sessoms hopes to create a bond between his viewer and his art that is both physical and spiritual.   

Check out Sessoms work below + via his website!

Afro-Cubans | George Ekwensi

The city of Havana is a canvas with people of many shades. But in the United States, we do not see the whole picture.

Following the Cuban revolution, a transnational white flight phenomenon occurred resulting in the emigration Cuban whites to Miami and other parts of the United States. Here, these families were able to build the necessary capital to send remittances to their relatives abroad. Afro-Cubans developed no such network for financial gain.

In Havana, however, the Afro-Cuban presence is very much alive, culturally, spiritual and in many other respects, ‘Afro-Cubanness’ permeates Cuban society. 

Now, unable to tap into the foreign wealth & the higher paying jobs from the tourism industry—booming due to softening relations between the States and Cuba—Afro-Cubans are experiencing yet another form of economic disparity.

These pictures are to demonstrate the resilience of the Afro-Cuban spirit.  

Read more about racial inequality on the island here: 


**all images belong to george ekwensi






About the photographer

George Ekwensi is a first generation Nigerian American living in Brooklyn, New York. He is a student of urban planning and sustainable environmental systems with a keen interest on the unique identities formed by diasporic communities.

connect with george

tumblr | instagram

Anne-Sophie of Among Fragments

Anne-Sophie Amegah is a visual artist born and raised in Lome, Togo. She is a lover of all forms of art, who draws inspiration from the insides as much as the outs.

inspired by the thousands of photos that embodied her childhood in West Africa, saving a past with a shutter release. This was her inspiration to pursue photography.

Her art exist out of a need for her to create visuals that make you see the world as it is and still find it beautiful.  Storytelling through photographs and motion. Stories that help you breathe and open up to let yourself out.

connect with Anne-Sophie

website - twitter - instagram



Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

   image source

 image source

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh is an illustrator/painter, mostly known for her oil paintings. Having recently branched out into public art as a muralist, Stop Telling Women To Smile (STWTS) was born out of the idea that street art can be an impactful tool for tackling street harassment. It's fitting to say I learned of Tatyana's work during a project presentation in my Womanism and the Black Feminist Thought class. Below I share some of my favorites from her. 

  Victim of American Fear (Inspired by Oscar Grant)  , oil on canvas, 2011

Victim of American Fear (Inspired by Oscar Grant), oil on canvas, 2011

  Judith  , oil and paper on canvas, 2011

Judith, oil and paper on canvas, 2011

  Seed  , oil on canvas, 2015

Seed, oil on canvas, 2015

  Sweet Thing Mother of Jesus  , oil on canvas, 2010

Sweet Thing Mother of Jesus, oil on canvas, 2010

Stop Telling Women to Smile

Stop Telling Women to Smile is a street art project that addresses gender based street harassment. 

The project consists of a series of portraits of women - women who I have sat talked with about their experiences with harassment. The portraits are designed into posters, including text that is inspired by the subject's experiences. And then I wheat paste. 

STWTS started in Brooklyn in the fall of 2012. It is an on-going, travelling series and will gradually include many cities and many women participants. 

Street harassment is a serious issue that affects women world wide. This project takes women’s voices, and faces, and puts them in the street - creating a bold presence for women in an environment where they are so often made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe. 

Connect with Tatyana via her website -- 

Agnes Essonti - the merging of two backgrounds

                Portrait by Berthe Essonti 

               Portrait by Berthe Essonti 

"I believe language itself is a form of art but what really amazes me is the link created between an art piece and what is trying to be communicated. From the vibrant colors and fluent lines in Kandinksy's paintings to Jospeh Chila's strong compositions and candid gazes. If language is contemplated as a way of communicating ideas, it also establishes a close relation with different cultures." -- Agnes Essonti 

Agnes Essonti, is an artist born and based in Barcelona. She grew up in a multi-cultural background in Spain, where she discovered her interest in photography at the age of twelve. She studied an Art baccalaureate in Escola Massana as she knew it was a nice starting point for her artistic career. After that, she moved to London to pursue a National Diploma in Photography. 

Agnes shares a little about herself: 

I studied art and design for two years and after that I graduated with a degree in photography. My journey includes many different media. Ii'm always looking for different ways to explain myself and build my own ideas. I am influenced by artists from the second half of the 20th century and their cultural context as well as my own background. I am half spanish and half Cameroonian. Although I've spent my whole life in Europe, I've always looked for an Afrocentric education so that I can tell different parts of my story. My current work mainly talks about me: a woman, a black woman and a woman with ideas. I love using self-portraiture because I contemplate myself as a tool to discover the world. I am currently working on a new project called Nka Kunde, an exclusive journal that creates a dialogue between my own experiences, backgrounds and contemporary affairs through words + visuals. 

Francine Thirteen

 image credit: republicofaustin

image credit: republicofaustin

Meet Francine Thirteen. Based in Texas, her work is focused on the magic of nature, archetypes and cellular memory. All of these combine to create a sound she refers to as "Ritual Pop."

Francine recently caught my attention with the track "Lady Mary, The Fire/ Par Una" which will appear on her forthcoming EP, 4 Marys and the King. She describes this EP as a "dystopian album inspired by singer, Nina Simone and author, Octavia Butler." 

Francine's sound is as eclectic and unconventional as she is. When I asked "do you have a bio you would like me to use for your feature?" She sent me this:

"Francine Thirteen is an extraterrestrial star seed from Venus. She landed in Dallas, TX to start her journey on Earth. She loves plants, animals and children. She loves singing in hyper-femine tones over rhythms that growl and menace. Thirteen has the exact same grin as her grandmother, minus the elegantly placed gold tooth."

Check out Francine's sounds below! 


Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou

The son of Benin’s best-known photographer Joseph Moise Agbodjelou, Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou photographs the people of his hometown—the thriving port city of Porto-Novo, caught between tradition and modern influences. Drawing subjects from street life, friends, family, and studio customers, Agbodjelou produces carefully composed portraits of individuals in interior spaces, standing in brightly colored, traditional Yoruba costumes against mud brick walls. In his “Demoiselles de Porto-Novo” series—which addresses art history through its triptych formats and titular references to Picasso—he focuses on the young female citizens of Porto-Novo, often capturing them in ceremonial or Vodun masks. Images such as Untitled Triptych (from the series Demoiselles de Porto-Novo) (2012), feature Portuguese-style colonial buildings, which point to the city’s historical role as a gateway for the colonial slave trade with Brazil. Agbodjelou recently opened Benin’s first photography school and was appointed president of the Photographer's Association of Porto-Novo. 

Meet Anbuley

Anbuley is the daughter of African/Ghanaian parents. She is the younger of two daughters who were both born during their parents stay in Vienna, Austria after Anbuley’s father received a scholarship from the Ghanaian government to study in Vienna. Her father, son of the then chief of Fumbisi (Western Upper Volta, GH) was a massive traditional African and Jazz music fan and also a vinyl collector. Her mother, who was an African dancer, influenced  little Anbuley who was born with a great sense for rhythm. Not knowing her original country, Anbuley enjoyed the African songs her parents sang to her and the African music (mainly Ghanaian cultural music) gave her the roots she needed growing up in a pure white society. Music became her refuge of home. At the age of 4, Anbuley and her Family left Vienna after her Father finished his studies there and went back to their country of heritage. There Anbuley participated in the school choir and different cultural events. After spending 5 years in Ghana, her Father lost his job and because her mother had a good job offer in Vienna, the family went back to Vienna. Years later Anbuley started connecting with producers around the world that she met online and created feature tracks with them.

Anbuley generally defines her music as afro-futuristic/afro-fusion, it is a mixture of the worlds she grew up in and fuses both worlds into one. She writes her lyric’s in English and then translates them into GA (one of the languages spoken in Ghana) with the help of her mom.

Listen to Anbuley's Afroklectic sounds and watch her bring those sounds to life in her videos below! 

Conenct with Anbuley 

Website - instagram

Jamaican born artist, Taj Francis

Taj Francis is a Jamaican born artist, designer and all around creative. I became familiar with his work after coming across his images on my tumblr dashboard. There's no doubt that he is inspired by his Jamaican roots. From the colors to the strokes in his sketches to the incredible detail in the locs of his drawing, he brings together his own unique style with his culture. In addition to his incredible drawings, Taj collaboration project "TENFOLD Opus" brings his drawings to life with the help of producers and musicians through this Audio-Visual EP. 

I was so excited to connect with Taj and have the opportunity to ask him a few questions regarding his art. Here's what he had to say. 

Bilphena: How are you influenced by your Jamaican roots? How does this influence show in your work?

Taj Francis: I can't escape the influence of Jamaica in my work. Whether it be colours or just the natural environment, it shows in up in some subtle ways. I've recently been more conscious of letting it show in my work.

Bilphena: What is your mental process when creating? Do you sit and think about what you want to create or does it just come to you? Are you listening to music during the process or do you prefer the quiet? Is there a certain space you go to when creating?

Taj: My process when creating varies, and it depends on what I'm doing and where I am mentally. Sometimes ideas will just come to me, or I will have them in the back of my mind until I'm ready to execute it. Or I will sit and hash out the idea, pen to paper, sketching, doing research, the whole works. Other times I just start creating and let it flow and evolve right in front of my eyes, much to my surprise at times. There are times when I just feel like God's vessel, to channel creating these images, as long as I rid myself of any selfish ideals when I'm creating.

Bilphena: What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an artist and how did you overcome it or how are you overcoming if it is a current challenge? 

Taj:  I've faced, and face many challenges. One that I faced was coming up with a definitive style of my own. I still don't think I'm fully there, but I feel I've come along way. It was a little difficult, but I just tried to stay to as true to myself as possible, and take charge of the kind of aesthetic I would want to see. There is so much out there, and the biggest challenge is to standout. Which leads me to the challenge I still face. The art world is very over saturated, this isn't bad really, but it's makes it difficult to be seen, so I've been trying to make my own lane, instead of moving with the crowd. Also, more importantly, their is not as much representation of black artist and black art in the larger art world, which is something I want to change in anyway I can, by just doing my part. Representation is important.

Who Knows Dub - the collaboration artwork with Winta James, Protoje and Chronixx is the second piece of the "TENFOLD: Opus" project. The project is an Audio-Visual EP, with a collection of collaborative pieces with producers and musicians, in which we interpret each others work to come together for one audio-visual dialogue. This piece was inspired by the duality of inner peace and anxiety Visuals by: Taj Francis Produced by: Winta James Performed by: Protoje and Chronixx TENFOLD / Overstand Ent / In.Digg.Nation Collective

Connect with Taj! 




The Female Form: Michelle Robinson

Michelle Robinson is a self-taught artist based in Los Angeles, California. Robinson’s work explores bold contrasts, color palettes, patterns and the female form. Apart from her signature subject: the female form, she also explores a purely abstracted interpretation. She concentrates on all the other elements in her work: patterns, texture, shapes. Robinson’s work teases the viewer to find the space to hold tight amidst her use of textured hair patterns that speaks directly to Robinson’s identity. 


instagram: mister_michelle 


Nadine Ijewere

Nadine Ijewere is a fashion and portrait photographer based in London. A graduate of London College of Fashion with a BA in Fashion Photography. Her inspiration stems from cultural diversity and her own personal journey in liberating and identifying ones self amongst social attitudes to challenge the conventional definition of what 'beauty' is.


Iranian Artist, Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat, an Iranian artist who has lived most of her adult life in the US in self-imposed exile from her native Iran, works in photography, video, film and performance.  Her work explores the political and social conditions of Iranian and Muslim life, particularly focusing on women and feminist issues. 

Her Women of Allah series, created in the mid-1990s, introduced the hallmark themes of her pieces through which she examines conditions of male, female, public, private, religious, political, and secular identities in both Iranian and Western cultures.

Neshat first feature film, Women Without Men, which tells the stories of four women struggling to escape oppression in Tehran won her the Silver Lion for best director at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.

Mintwab Zemeadim: Preserving culture through art

i discovered the work of Mintwab Zemeadim through Instagram. an Ethiopian living in the states, Zemadim use of photographs, bold prints and colors to create a story that reflects her culture is nothing short of beautiful. when asked about her work she said this:  

'Through my art, I reflect the past, present and future. I am inspired by the resiliency and power of my people to tell my story. I create to celebrate my community and preserve my culture." 

instagram/twitter: @ekushhhh