The Immigrant Artist Biennial: Abena Motaboli

Abena Motaboli, The Pieces that hang far up above – in you, in me, in I, in We, in Us, 2019 Plastic Tarp. Dimensions variable approximate 12ft x 12ft x 12ft. Photo courtesy the artist

The Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB) is a volunteer, female-led, artist-run project. TIAB 2020 launched in March in New York City at Brooklyn Museum, and continued in September through December at EFA Project Space, Greenwood Cemetery, and virtually, presenting 60+ artists. This interview series features 10 participating artists.

Abena Motaboli is a Southern African born educator, visual artist, and writer based in Chicago. She grew up in Lesotho, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, before moving to the U.S where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at Columbia College Chicago and at L’Institut Catholique de Paris in Paris, France. With a strong commitment to social justice work in the South and West sides of Chicago and being an immigrant, her artwork comments on displacement, immigration, the African diaspora, and the loss of the sense of home. In her intricate plastic installations and meditative line-work in her paintings, she uses ephemeral material such as plastic, tea, dirt, and coffee to comment on colonialism, past memories, and the culture of creating.

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