Black History Month in Art: Yinka Shonibare

In honor of Black History Month, we want to highlight some of the greatest black artists in the world who have created essential works that reflect the black experience and tackle issues of identity, social and political concerns, and more.

British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare explores “colonialism and postcolonialism within the contemporary context of globalization.” From the artist’s website:

Shonibare’s work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. Shonibare questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions. His trademark material is the brightly coloured ‘African’ batik fabric he buys in London. This type of fabric was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s the material became a new sign of African identity and independence.

Watch an interview with Shonibare, and learn more about the artist through his own words, below.

“People do talk about my disability, the way that I work is in fact not very different from how most artists work now, like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst. If you do 10 exhibitions a year, you can’t possibly be making everything yourself, able-bodied or not. So I don’t actually feel that I’m very unusual at all—I probably would have ended up working this way even if I was able-bodied since I get so many projects. I have a studio with a production manager and then I work with a lot of different costumers, sculptors, filmmakers, and so on. The way I work is like the way most busy international contemporary artists work now, actually.”

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