Above: Marcellina Akpojotor, Set to Flourish II, 2021
ADA \ contemporary art gallery (Accra, Ghana) and HOFA Gallery (London, United Kingdom) have joined forces to premiere an all-female group exhibition, Mother of Mankind, showcasing an international selection of 18 emerging artists. On view from July 22 – August 31 at HOFA’s London space, the exhibition is the first of its kind to be presented by both galleries. Curated by Adora Mba, founder and director of ADA \ contemporary art gallery, Mother of Mankind sheds light on a new generation of rising artists whose work challenges and deconstructs art historical canons of representation – recurring motives which often marginalize and obliterate Black figures, and in particular, the Black female figure. Each artist investigates, in her own unique way, current perceptions of identity, gender, sexuality, family and society, all-the-while bringing forth her personal experience and a distinct visual narrative across a range of media.
More than a collection of global female artists, Mother of Mankind is envisioned as a statement, a sisterhood, and an artistic call to arms. Advancing the connection to Mother Earth, Mother Nature, and Mother Africa, the artists portray varied self-definitions of the Black woman, in light of a new approach and artistic contribution to contemporary art.
Above: Sophia Oshodin, While We Wait, 2021.
Placing her as the central figure, an active participant in their art, they draw upon visual cues from diverse galvanic portraitures to achieve a balance between realism and abstraction, forms and textures, power and vulnerabilities. In the spirit of social change and reform, each brings forth a new position, in lieu of a new definition, of the Black woman. Rather than attributing new roles to this marginalized figure, they establish a new space for existing roles to be unveiled and shared. Director of ADA \ contemporary art gallery and curator Adora Mba explains:“At a time when singular voices demonstrate their strength when united, I feel privileged to showcase the works of these remarkably talented artists in one of the cities I call home. The women presented in this show are in the early days of their artistic careers, yet already making waves and drawing attention amidst an industry which tends to be more supportive of their male counterparts. In working with ADA, HOFA is lending us a space for their, for our, voices to be heard; our stories to be told; our creative spirits to conceive, unbound, forging our own narratives. Beyond being artists that I personally admire, these women are my sisters, my kin from across the globe.”
Elio D’Anna, co-founder and director of HOFA, pursues:“This exhibition is the first of its kind at HOFA Gallery, and we are honored to showcase powerful and norm-defying visual narratives of Black femininity as told by Black female artists. Brought together through the lens of a Black female curator, Mother of Mankind engages boldly and critically with international events and discussions over the past few months, making it a particularly relevant, momentous exhibition in London this year.”
Above: Jamilla Okubo, I do not come to you as a reality. I come to you as The Myth (Pentecost), 2021.
Moving the dialogue away from a normative femininity, Mother of Mankind places the frame on the specific Black experience, by showcasing artists whose construct of femininity is conceptualized in its application to women from Africa and its diaspora. Hailing from a range of countries, from Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa to Canada, the US, the UK and France, the participating artists consciously reject and redefine traditional standards of beauty, perception and representation – thereby reclaiming ownership over their narrative and elevating a Black female consciousness and identity.
Participating artists: Jamilla Okubo Adebunmi Gbadebo Emma Prempeh Ekene Maduka Ayobola Kekere-Ekun Muofhe Manavhela Mookho Ntho
Cece Phillips Alexandria Couch, Sola Olulode
Marcellina Akpojotor Cinthia Sifa Mulanga Chinaza Agbor
Damilola Onosowbo Marcus Tobi Alexandra Falade Dimakatso Mathopa Sophia Oshodin