Africa in the Picture VI

On a rainy day in 2007, Femi Kuti and his band rocked Central Park Summerstage to an undeterred, packed audience.  The rain eventually subsided, and like his father before him, gave a rousing performance jamming for nearly three hours.  Nigerian photographer/cinematographer Henry Adebonojo struck by the resemblance of Femi to his late, great father Fela Kuti captured this moment (check out my WordPress stablemate Henry’s new blog, Fewer Words)  … In Pieter Hugo’s 2006 portrait, Morris Toe of Monrovia, Liberia shows a stoic maturity which belies his youth.

Though York’s Shona Gallery specializes in Shona works from Zimbabwe, they offer an assortment of African artifacts from throughout the continent, such as the Ivorian Colonial figure shown here … The prevailing African influence in fashion is evident in the towering pump from Dries Van Noten … Kudos to one of my favorite magazines, Arise, on their recent award as Magazine Launch of the Year for 2009 by the Association of Publishing Agencies. So well deserved, covering “fashion. music. culture. polity.” of African and African descended people, the London-based publication is tight. The content and art direction are strong and the mag is printed on sturdy paper stock to best showcase the striking photography.

I just had to show some love for my Senufo stool from Côte d’Ivoire.  Such a clean, simple form carved from a single block of wood. Such an adaptable piece of furniture/art … Having spent several years collecting textiles during travels to Kenya, Max Osterweis launched SUNO in 2008.  Designed in New York, the garments are created in Kenyan fabrics by Kenyan artisans paid a fair wage.

One of nearly ninety African garments acquired by The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this 19th century cowrie-embellished Kuba cloth garment, feels very modern …  Evoking the  Côte d’Ivoire of her 1970’s childhood,  Marguerite Abouet’s Aya of Yop City series of graphic novels chronicles the often comical goings-on of level-headed, studious teen, Aya and her friends and family.  The lively illustrations by Clément Oubrerie bring the characters of Yopougon “Yop City” to life.  Though three English-language editions have been published thus far, the series, written in French is now up to book five.

Bayetou, the Kuba-inspired recumbent chair by Bibi Seck and Ayse Birse was one the highlights of M’Afrique, the show curated by African American product designer Stephen Burks for Moroso Italy …  Brooklyn born Maya A. Lake’s Boxing Kitten line of “ethnic rockabilly” dresses and separates gained widespread exposure when Alicia Keys and Beyonce wore some pieces in the “Put It In a Love Song” video.  Other celeb fans include Erykah Badu, Fergie and choreographer Fatima Robinson. Here, music video director Melina Matsoukas wears the Carmen top and Kitt shorts.

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2 Responses

  1. Sharon, you are impossibly good at this! I can’t wait to see what the next installment will be or the next subject you tackle. Kudos!!!

  2. I love fela , i have been playing him nonstop this year , not because of the musical , but just the message of his music Army Arrangement is one of the favs !!! Arise is a great mag! thanks for the post love it .

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