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Demif Gallery: Portraits of Black Female Artists – Angela Franklin-Faye

Demif Gallery: Portraits of Black Female Artists – Angela Franklin-Faye

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, I want to spotlight the work of Black female artists that you may not have heard of or overlooked.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been in conversation with Edo Ndeke Co-Founder, Commercial and Project Manager of Demif Gallery – about showcasing their work, discovering the inspiration behind the collections and bringing to the fore, the driving force behind each Woman’s artistry.

I had the pleasure of interviewing four phenomenal Women: Rachel Malaika Nkumisongo; Claudie Titty Dimbeng; Aza Mansongi and Angela Franklin-Faye.

Next up is Angela Franklin-Faye

Angela Franklin-Fay. Photo by Stefan Lindeque: Friday Magazine

Angela Franklin-Fay. Photo by Stefan Lindeque: Friday Magazine

With a BA in Art from Xavier University and her MFA from Bradley University, Angela Franklin-Faye has exhibited her works throughout the US and internationally.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio she has lived abroad since, dividing her time between Senegal and the United Arab Emirates since 2007. This international experience has resulted in a body of work that encourages her to chronicle the experiences of people from the diaspora worldwide.Her works were exhibited at the Foundation Blachere in France from May 23 to November 17, 2019. Other past exhibitions include the13th DAK’Art Biennale, national exhibition of Contemporary African Art (May 2018), along with the Dialogue in Black and White Exhibition at the Charleston City Gallery.  Her works have also been featured at Paris Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, The Art Hub-Abu Dhabi, The Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Ohio Craft Museum and Musee Boribana Dakar. Works by Franklin-Faye are in the corporate collections of Atlanta Life Insurance Company, The Nations Bank, Arco Chemical and Household Finance.

She earned a second Master Degree in Online Education and Leadership Management, and credits this with having an even greater impact on her artwork.  She is the owner of Chez Alpha Books – a bookstore and academic resource center in Dakar, Senegal.

'The Angels Cried: As They Knew it was Never Only', textile and mixed media 2018

‘The Angels Cried: As They Knew it was Never Only’, textile and mixed media 2018

What are the differences between Africa and USA in terms of being an artist?

In all honesty, it can often be the same.  I create and make artistic contacts on both continents. I am seen as a Woman artist before being seen as an artist in both lands. The accessibility to materials, design concepts, time needed to work and my ability to document my works have been consistent. I make the locations work for me, and noticed that once I left the US it wasn’t so easy to access the artist communities there.  I felt while living in the UAE and Senegal that there was a genuine interest in international art, while I do not often view this same reaction widespread in the US art community.

What does your body of work stand for? 

My body of work often reflects life experiences or observations that I have made about family, community or global issues that resonate with me.

What are the themes that you as an Afro-American want to converse? 

My themes are varied and really reflect my experiences living in different regions of the world. Ultimately these same stories are interrelated. I enjoy being in a position to “bear witness” to my experiences. In a world where people may not always listen to the voice of a Black Woman, my works say all that I want to express. Most important, I am drawn to art and exhibits/community programmes that use art as a tool to speak to communities of all incomes, education and class levels. Growing up art, colour and design were integral to me but not solely via museums.

It was in the items my mother sewed, or the ceramics my sister created, or the fabrics selected to cover the sofa. There was always an appreciation for color and design. I wanted to extend this appreciation even further and wider to tell stories that did not require a high level of education to be enjoyed. My narratives are relatable.

In your work you focus a lot on shared experiences as a global citizen? Why is this important for you? 

I was fortunate to be able to live and work in different communities. It not only exposed me to diverse cultures but also ignited an appreciation for diverse viewpoints. In addition, I was exposed to different art traditions, writers, music, and more. All of this flows consciously or unconsciously in my work. No matter the topic, I am exploring-grief, oppression, greed, wellness or more I have numerous viewpoints on this topic.

What is integral to your work?

Storytelling is integral to my work. Coming from a family that engaged in sharing family stories and tales, my art works are for me the tangible example of how I continue sharing stories. When someone tells a story, sometimes you have to lean in to hear the good part. I want my artworks to encourage, insist and force the viewer to lean in. I never wanted to create works that allowed the viewing audience to easily walk by.

Who have you learned from the most in your artistic journey?

It is really an accumulation of information but I think it is important to build, keep and maintain an artistic community. It does not need to be 300 people. It can be 5 only but those 5 offer the physical, intellectual, mental and spiritual support you need. Creating art is often an individual endeavor however the support that you both give and receive from your community are often crucial in one’s ability to walk into a studio and get to work.

I’m adamant that artists must either be business-minded or surround themselves with a business professional or gallery that is competent, committed and knowledgeable about the business of art. It is indeed a business when you move into selling and exhibiting works, so it is imperative to work with professionals who understand this and come to the table with a thorough knowledge of social media, marketing, community management, community outreach, customer relationship management, ethics and networking skills. I think they need to have a knowledge and appreciation of art.

'They Forgot that Long Ago There was a Panther', textile and mixed media 2018

‘They Forgot that Long Ago There was a Panther’, textile and mixed media 2018

How has the pandemic impacted your practice?

Covid-19 in many ways has given me more time to focus on work and at the same time has inspired several works that examine the impact of the pandemic, locally and internationally. There are so many stories to tell and I want to share many of these. Additionally, without having the freedom to easily run out and get materials I learned to rely on items that I may not have previously used.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on 3 pieces at the same time. I started working on several pieces at once more often during Covid. With more time to work, my mind was racing and I could not focus solely on completing one work before the pull to go on to the next overcame me.

One piece talks about breath and the act of breathing related to both Covid and the deaths of Black Men and Women by police violence. When we say I can’t breathe it now has a double meaning for me

Another work is discussing the recent uprising in Senegal. I think that we are all implicated in the actions and discussions that took place during this period. The work I am creating questions the notion that people can just walk by and not notice.

Another piece is like the precursor of the work related to the uprising. I am examining the fishing industry in Senegal, and how the depletion of fish has also contributed to an economic crisis in Senegal, lack of jobs, increased number of young people attempting to go abroad and the lives loss as a result.

In all situations breathing remains at the core of who we are and what we need to do!

***

Demif Gallery is an online art gallery, built with passion, dedicated to art lovers and collectors, founded by Didier Demif, a trained artist, writer and communications specialist. The founder’s mission is to promote cultural diversity and young minority ethnic artists, with a particular focus on Contemporary African art. Located in England, they sell artwork from an exquisite pool of emerging young artists from the UK and around the world. As well as being an online gallery, Demif Gallery also commissions art, organises and runs pop up art exhibitions and takes part in national and international art fairs.

Become a member and receive full access to Real Reads, Africa in Focus and Grad Zine.

Apply the discount code UNLIMITED25 and enjoy 25% off until the 23rd of April 2021.

Header Image: Angela Franklin-Faye. ‘Grief Will Teach you Math, When You Subtract One’. Textile and mixed Media, 2019

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