Image courtesy of Shelton Boyd-Griffith/GRAZIA

Art is important now more than ever. It reflects our time we live in, bringing joy and representation, while challenging us. And most importantly, we can credit our favorite artists and their work with starting important social and political discourse. As part of a new ongoing series, we’re spotlighting a few amazing women BIPOC artists whose work spans across many disciplines, countries and media — and we can’t stop talking about them. Alongside getting to know them, we asked these stylish artists what role fashion and beauty plays into their artistic practices.

So keep scrolling as GRAZIA dives into what makes them tick in their responses below. 

LOLA AYISHA OGBARA:

Lola Ogbara. Photo courtesy of artist. Photo by: Collin W. Elliot

Lola Ogbara is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Chicago. Working in several different media from sculpture to mixed-media, her work explores the Black femme body as well as multifaceted implications and ramifications of sexuality in regard to the Black experience. A recent Masters of Fine Arts graduate, Ogbara’s work has been exhibited all across the country from New Orleans to Saint Louis. Aside from Ogbara being a phenomenal artist, she’s also incredibly fashion-forward. We’re talking Maison Margiela Tabi boots, fur coats, plus a mix of designer and sustainable vintage pieces with a curated jewelry collection — so, its safe to say following Ogbara on Instagram is aesthetically-fulfilling.

Devouring Binds
‘Devouring Binds (A Good Day to be Black & Sexy, series)’, Lola Ogbara 2019. Stoneware, Cement & Rope
'All That Glitters Ain't Gold
‘All That Glitters Ain’t Gold (A Good Day to be Black & Sexy, series)’, Lola Ogbara 2020. Glitter on stoneware

GRAZIA: What role does fashion and beauty play into your artistic practice?

Lola Ogbara: I am enamored of adornment. Adornment in the context of feminine prowess and bravado which takes space in femme rap/hip-hop discourse. Platinum, leather, rhinestones, gold chains, hair beads, jewelry, bling — these are all things I bring into my practice. I use visual aesthetics of Black feminine power to highlight an unspoken beauty.

Where you can see her work: If you’re in the Miami area, you can see Ogbara’s work at the Fairyland at Mindy Solomon Gallery until May 8, 2021 or online on their Artsy viewing room.

Where you can follow them: You can follow Ogbara on Instagram to get a further glimpse into her artistic practice (as well as see her serve some looks) You can also click here to check out her website.

SHEFON TAYLOR:

Shefon Taylor
Shefon Taylor. Photo courtesy of artist.

Shefon Taylor is a collagist based in Wilmington, Delaware. Weaving beautiful, poetic collage on paper works, Taylor uses found images, primarily of archival family photos, archival images of Black culture and Black fashion images of yesterday. Her process and practice are informed by the discovery and affirmation, “may the women with whom I share blood, speak my name and never find themselves alone.” Her social media speaks to her personal aesthetic. Very light and airy, think old romanticism, lots of beautiful lace and old Hollywood glam — that’s Shefon Taylor.

Half Dreamed, 2021. Collage on paper
‘Half Dreamed’, Shefon Taylor. 2021. Collage on paper
Meditation On Dreaming', Shefon Taylor. 2021
‘A Small Sunday Meditation On Dreaming’, Shefon Taylor. 2021 

What role does fashion and beauty play into your artistic practice?

Shefon Taylor: Collage, sometimes, feels like a game of illusions and there is plenty to unpack where illusions of beauty are concerned—while fashion brings an element of fantasy that pairs perfectly with the surrealism of the art form.

Where you can see her work: On her website. 

Where you can follow them: You can follow Shefon on Instagram to get an in-depth look at her collaging process and archival photo references. 

ESMAA MOHAMOUD:

Esmaa
Esmaa Mohamoud. Photo courtesy of artist.

Esmaa Mohamoud is a conceptual artist based in Toronto, Canada who works primarily in sculpture and installation. Her work may often involve sports paraphernalia but it’s not about sports. She uses these familiar sports objects to “trick the viewer into having a conversation they don’t really want to have.” Her work tackles themes about race and bringing people to face discourse around race. Mohamoud is a 2021 artist-in-residence for Kehinde Wiley’s prestigious ‘Black Rock” residency as well as a Sobey Art Award finalist. Mohamoud has mastered the art of mixing streetwear with glam, like rocking the hottest sneaker, the classic Air Force 1, with an oversized blazer and a bold red lip. That’s Mohamoud’s signature. 

Glorious Bones
‘Glorious Bones’, Esmaa Mohamoud. 2019. Photo courtesy of artist/Georgia Scherman Projects
One of The Boys
‘One of The Boys’, Esmaa Mohamoud. 2017-19. Photo courtesy of artist/Georgia Scherman Projects

What role does fashion and beauty play into your artistic practice?

Esmaa Mohamoud: Fashion plays a big role in my practice. So much of my practice involves wearable sculpture. These sculptures are oftentimes influenced by fashion. Beauty also plays a role in my practice as I strive to make objects that not only hold concept, but are also beautiful objects to look at. Often in my practice i repurpose materials and give them a new life. I like to think of it as processes of beautification to watch these objects transform from discarded objects to art works.

Where you can see her work: On her website.

Where you can follow them: You can follow Mohamoud on Instagram.

NAOMI SOQUAR:

Naomi Soquar
Naomi Soquar. Photo courstey of artist.

Naomi Soquar is based in the DMV area and is a writer whose work spans across digital archiving, experimental film, and critical cultural studies research to explore innovation and preserve memory work of the Black African diaspora. Her work is interested in understanding the multiple ways new media imagines deterritorialized spaces for Black embodiment. Her archival short film will be a part of a major online cohort exhibition taking place later this month. She’s also Telfar stan who juxtaposes styles so effortlessly and loves Wales Bonner. What’s not to like?

Soul on Fire
Still from ‘Soul on Fire’, Naomi Soquar. 2020. Mixed media film
Soul on Fire
Still from ‘Soul on Fire’, Naomi Soquar. 2020. Mixed media film

What role does fashion and beauty play into your artistic practice?

Naomi Soquar: Self-expression through fashion influences my cultural studies approach to my work. My favorite designers are ones who aren’t afraid to take risks. I think about how McQueen was so ahead of his time because he was more interested in conveying experiences and stories through his fashion shows than just selling clothes. I apply that inspiration to communicate my vision of freedom, specifically through my research process when connecting themes for a project. I’m interested in preserving history through storytelling. I’m also drawn by how designers like Wales Bonner weave and elevate historical and cultural references in their collections.

Where you can see her work: Naomi’s short-form film Soul on Fire will be featured in an online group exhibition, ‘BLACK ART SESSIONS presents STRAIGHT LICK‘ spearheaded by David Zwirner Director, Ebony L. Haynes later this month.

Where you can follow them: You can follow Naomi on Instagram to find out more about her digital archiving process.

thoughts?