I recently participated in an exhibition titled BECOMING at Out Left Art together with Newark based artists Kwesi O. Kwarteng and Layqa Nuna Yawar. The exhibition is a survey on the migration experience and the theory of how it shifts one’s perception of identity.

Artworks by Kwesi O. Kwarteng and Layqa Nuna Yawar

The curator Luma Art Advisory notes: “Each artist’s exploration of relocation from a homeland displays a self-awareness of the change from their previous identity. The journey has broadened their scope of the world, shifted their perspectival view, and diversified their cultural exposure. The migrant experience includes the dilemma of cultural assimilation and preservation and the conflict of societal stigmatization. The double consciousness of how they see themselves comparative to society’s gaze disrupts the act of being to one of contemplation.”

(Left) A procession, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches

The paintings created for this exhibition are reflections on the migrant experience from a personal lens which as Luma Art Advisory describes includes the “dilemma of cultural assimilation and preservation”. It includes feelings of not fully belonging to a culture or having full ownership of a language anymore, as well as questions of what traditions to carry on. But the same experiences are also blessings that expand and enrichen your mind.

(Right) A road map, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches

I think of these paintings as mind collages or non-linear narratives where I weave together imagery from different times, places, and cultures.  They are built up in layers through an intuitive process, combining imagery from photo archives of families with immigrant backgrounds, combined with my own present and past experiences and thoughts.

Currents, 2022, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches

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