ENAM GBEWONYO, ARTIST & CURATOR
What are you excited about right now?
There’s so much to be excited about and much of it involves fellow AWITA members in some way. I’m excited about the current development of my practice and the path it’s taking. Part of which will see me undertake a month long artist residency in India next February with the Raj Art Initiative. I have fellow AWITA member Marine Tanguy of MT Art Agency to thank for the recommendation for that.
I’m also super excited to be sitting for a portrait with Carla van de Putelaar in September as she continues to document women in the art world for her powerful series Artfully Dressed: Women in the Art World. Again I have AWITA to thank for that as the referral came via those channels and of course many of our members and founders have already been captured.
Lastly I’m extremely excited for the solo show of my friend and fellow member of the Black British Female Artist Collective as well as AWITA, Adelaide Damoah. I’ve had quite a few sneak previews of the work and suffice to say it is going to be an incredibly ground-breaking show. Her work is absolutely breathtaking and the fact that both Katrina Aleksa (AWITA Co-Founder) and Marine Tanguy (AWITA member) are partnering with her to bring it to life is heartening.
It’s testament to the ethos of AWITA and its members – creating networks and a support system to empower each other and help us each achieve our greatness.
Which 3 qualities do you think one must have to succeed?
My three would be;
Resilience, success in whatever way you define it comes at a cost. It takes dedication and hard work - according to The Tipping Point (by Malcolm Gladwell) developing the expertise in your craft takes 10,000 hours. It will not be easy and the reality is you will come across all sorts of challenges. Developing the tools and strength to bear the challenges gives you the staying power to realise success.
Integrity, being true to who you are is pivotal, it makes the success once achieved even sweeter and earns the respect of your peers. True integrity takes putting the ego aside something most of us take our lifetimes to learn to do if at all. It means taking the time to really know yourself and come to terms with those parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable and make peace with them. It also means opening yourself and your vulnerabilities up to others, showing yourself and everyone else who you really are.
Passion, our time here is too precious to dedicate it to anything but what you’re truly passionate about in life, to what brings you joy. If you know what that is pursue it with everything you have, if you don’t take the time to find out what it is and go after it. It’s the passion that helps you be resilient in the difficult times and keeps you motivated in pursuing the success.
Which female artist, living or dead, would you invite to a fantasy dinner party and why?
I would invite Claudette Johnson, as one of the pioneering Black British Female Artists of the 80s she helped pave the way for the likes of me. The powerful work she made and continues to make is unapologetic in its positive depictions of blackness. Her portraits are incredibly poetic in form they have a way of drawing you in. I think particularly of her piece ‘Trilogy (Part Two) Woman in Black’, it’s both bold and subdued and just extremely passionate! I’ve had the privilege of meeting her and her humility only makes her more inspiring and becoming. It would be an honour to share a meal with her, learn about her journey as well as the joys, woes and comedy of womanhood/ life. That’s if I can hold it together and not become the fan girl I did when I first met her! Actual true story!