ASU West Brings African Art to Phoenix

Positively Arizona

The Sankofa Bird is an important symbol in West Africa. It’s a bird that’s moving forward but also looking back. 

“Really it’s to symbolize look back. Go back to your roots and know where you came from,” said Hussein Mohamed, Artspace West Gallery Director at Arizona State West Campus

Hussein immigrated with his family to Arizona from Kenya 22 years ago. It’s that heritage that inspired Hussein to bring art from Africa to his hometown. 

“There are a lot of African Americans that might be generationally separated from the continent. To see African work from African artists here in America really can reconnect and just have an emotional, spiritual reconnection back to the continent,” said Mohamed. 

That’s exactly the message behind Sankofa: Discovering Destiny, an installment of African art at ASU West.  

Dozens of pieces of art really show the progression of art in Africa with pieces dating back to as early as 50 years, all the way to ancient Africa. 

“These pieces really highlights being a part of colonial powers and how African Americans are integrating into that narrative,” said Mohamed. 

The pieces are thought-provoking and impactful.

“I felt sad. It’s such a violent representation of slavery and it feels very authentic,” Traci Encizo, program coordinator, school of humanities, arts and cultural studies at ASU West

“This is one of the most powerful pieces. It shows a dagger right in the heart of Africa and African bleeding itself,” said Mohamed. 

The exhibit opens on Tuesday, Jan. 29, and will be open all February for Black History Month. 

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