Spotlight Series

Spotlight: ARTS.BLACK

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some of the many arts publications that we regularly read, and this week we’re devoting our attention to ARTS.BLACK. Co-editors Taylor Renee and Jessica Lynne write, “It was a pleasure to publish this insightful interview with Kosi Nnebe, an emerging visual artist from Montreal. You might read this interview and be tempted to think that Stephanye Watts and Kosi have been friends forever, the ease of their conversation is an example of the best type of exchange. We’re excited to keep following Kosi and her work.” This interview was originally published on October 6, 2015.

Artist Kosi Nnebe.

Artist Kosi Nnebe.

In May, I traveled to Montreal looking to connect with Black creatives in one of my favorite cities. This was a test trip for future projects to be completed by the Brooklyn-based collective, the Coleman-Henson Society, I started with friends. Our goal is to spotlight Black talent across the diaspora. Our time in Montreal surpassed all expectations. On our final day, I attended a picnic in Mont Royal hosted by visual artist Kosi Nnebe. Besides being blown away by her work, I was taken by Kosi’s self-assuredness as a young Black woman. After months of sister-to-sister chats via email, we finally sat down in person to talk about Black Montreal, womanhood, and producing art as a form of self-care.

Stephanye: In my quest to track down Black artists based in Montreal for my trip, your name kept popping up. As a Black millennial and woman, how do you think your voice has impacted the community in your adopted city?

Kosi: It’s a hard question to answer. I feel as though Montreal has impacted me much more than I could ever impact it. I don’t want to speak to how I’m perceived by the community (I can only hope for the best), but I can talk about the kind of effects I’d like my work to have on the city. My voice, my art, and my work, more generally, are rooted in and deeply influenced by my positionality as a Black woman and millennial. They colour the questions I ask, the initiatives I take on, and the narrative that I’ve been trying to create over the last two years. My Blackness bleeds into every single aspect of my life, and as such is inextricable from my work—it is my muse and my motivator. If anything, I hope that this desire to hold on to my Blackness, to embrace my Blackness, to place my Blackness on podiums in spaces that would not usually accept it, to hang my Blackness from ceilings in museums and galleries full of White walls, White bodies, and White art will inspire others to embrace their Blackness in their work.

My main goal has always been to spark a conversation—and here, I believe, is where my identity as a millennial comes into play. I have used social media as best I can to create a platform for my work. My Instagram account will never be as well curated as Solange’s (#goals), but there is something to be said about creating an aesthetic for oneself that makes your work more accessible. Social media is, more than anything, a platform that has enabled many, including myself, to create new and alternative narratives around identity, race, and gender.

Read the rest of the conversation here.