Nneka Uzoma Gigi, who is also called Ibhareta Amaka Gigi or just Gigi, is a Contemporary Visual Artist, Doctoral Student, and Educator. I have 4 brothers and a sister who passed away during infancy.
The daughter of a Nigerian father and an American mother, Nneka states that one of the things that define her is the role that she has and would like to continue to grow within the black community.
“I feel it is my personal duty to uplift people that look like me.”
Speaking on how she started, she has this to say, “Originally, I started making jewelry around 2010. I would hand-carve jewelry on a workbench that was attached to my kitchen table. My dad didn’t want me using his power tools for safety reasons so I would literally carve out earrings made from wood by hand using a large saw.”
“Eventually, I delved more into the world of fashion. I taught myself to sew and within a year of doing so, I participated in my first fashion week event in New York City.”
“This changed everything for me. To get love and attention outside my city was proof of concept. All of these creative experiences have provided me with the courage to do what I do today, which is painting and creating sculptures using mannequins and/ or hair.”
Her art is targeted towards what being black means.
“Our legacy as black people did not start with slavery and end with the Civil Rights Movement. My hope is to empower people of color to achieve heightened levels of mental and economic success. I try to incorporate self-love, cultural pride and financial literacy, themes essential to our growth as a people, in most of my work.
“We are a resilient people that have built the economy that disenfranchises us but that does not have to be our only narrative. This is what I hope for my art to continue exploring.”
Nneka is inspired by women and little girls of color that look like her and do not quite understand the magic that brews in their bones.
She is also inspired by men and boys of color who think that they are limited to only careers in entertainment and little children of color who don’t understand that being black is a privilege and wealth is not out of their reach.
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*Graphic art and photography was provided by Zachary Bxllion, Instagram handle: @zacharybxllion