Afrofuturisim + history + art = stunning
October 18, 2015 at 2:00 am
Blavity: Would you describe your work as Afrofuturist? If so, when and how were you introduced to Afrofuturism?
Mintwab Zemeadim: I wasn’t introduced to the term Afrofuturism coined by Mark Dery until a couple years ago in one of my media classes. However, creating alternative universes and using the past to inform the future has always been rooted in our history as black people, which has influenced my art. While my art can be described as Afrofuturist, it is not limited to it.
B: What artists inspire you?
MZ: One of the artists that come to mind is Blitz The Ambassador. Through his artistry, I am inspired in his ability to embody the complexity, richness and beauty of Africa and the diaspora in different mediums. The album Native Sun exemplified the power in creating your own narrative.
B: Describe why collage art has been a medium for you?
MZ: Collage as a medium allows me to reimagine and combine layers of images to create a new story. It has become a platform to challenge reality and transcend the concept of time and space.
B: How do you go from idea to execution?
MZ: It begins with an inspiration, which then leads to digging through an archive of images. I create a piece. Leave it. Return to it and shift things around. In the midst of the process, the initial message and image often evolve. Elements of moving pieces and a soundtrack are added depending on whether I feel it could enhance the story.
“Enat ina lij” (Mother and child) was a piece that merged three different moments into a single image. The song “Tizita,” which means memory in Amharic, served as the soundtrack. It signified a moment of reflection as a mother and child overlooked a town tucked away on the outskirts of Addis Ababa while the Ethiopian Airlines plane flew above the city sky.
It is an extension of the immigrant journey. The sacrifices made by family to leave home in pursuit of the unfamiliar in hopes of attaining “The American Dream.” A personal reflection of my mother and I moving from Ziway, Ethiopia to Seattle, Washington, to join my father on that pursuit.
B: How does the city you live in influence your art?
MZ: As an Ethiopian living in Seattle, my art reflects the merging of two cultural identities. My existence in the city is a result of my immigration but also the sacrifices of Natives and black people who’ve paved the way for me to be here. It has taught me that preservation of culture is essential to survival.
In turn, art has become the platform for me to reflect. The position from which I create is rooted in my understanding that my identity is intertwined with Black, African and Ethiopian. I am inspired by the resiliency and power of my people to tell my story of how I see the world.
B: What advice do you have for other artists who are beginning to share their work?
MZ: Always create. Trust your process. Challenge yourself, but also celebrate your creations.
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