The last artist to be spotlighted this UK Black History Month is Stephanie Unaeze. Intense colour and surrealist figures make up the foundations of Stephanie's work. From here, she builds on themes of globalisation and identity, creating pieces that demand attention.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a self-taught visual artist currently living and working in Lagos, Nigeria. My practice aims to understand and document the effects that society, culture and tradition have on the proverbial self. Tackling issues such as globalisation, post-colonial consumerism and identity, my multi-cultural upbringing is one of my main influences.
Through a form of 'modern Afro-Pop-Surrealism', I juxtapose fact against fantasy, traversing through the conscious and subconscious. I use my art to express and document the nuances, complexities and layers that surround the modern African lifestyle. With the use of pattern, geometric design and vibrant colour, I evoke the strong flavours of the continent and the spirit of its people. My often faceless figures project the idea that the self is always present through cultural shifts, new forms of expression and societal changes.
Describe your art in three words.
Afro, Pop, Surrealism.
What inspires you as an artist?
Society, culture and the shared human experience.
Who's an artist you admire?
Nina Chanel Abney, Peju Alatise, Ndidi Dike, Yinka Shonibare and Kehinde Wiley.
Have you faced any challenges through the course of your career?
As a minority artist, you don't have as much access or opportunities as other artists and you have to work twice as hard to prove that you deserve your spot.
Do you have a message for readers regarding the UK’s Black History Month?
With regards to Black History Month in the UK, I think that schools and institutions are obligated to tell the truth about Black history, move away from the singular narrative and work with the community on current issues regarding racism, activism, inclusion, colonialism and many more. Because each and every day we are actively making Black history.
Cover image via Stephanie Unaeze