After winning the Dean Collection grant from Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, local artist Penda Diakité had her first big art show in Hollywood at the Substrate Gallery, on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.
The ‘Made in America’ art exhibition, which was free and open to the public, was full of people of all different races celebrating Diakité’s cultural art. Growing up between her father’s hometown in Mali and her mother’s in Oregon, Diakité has art influences from around the world. Her art showcased the beauty and pain of people of color and immigrants in the United States.
“I’ve been working on this for the past seven months now and this work is about what it means to be of color in the U.S. today. It’s also about my experiences as a bicultural woman,” said Diakité. “I just feel so blessed and happy for the great turnout. My art has a lot going on. The pieces are all cut out fingernail size and they create these huge characters.”
Diakité’s collage art featured all types of materials and images including bullets, the American flag and $100 bills. Many of the pieces were also full of color and powerful words shaped into bodies with amplified facial features. There were about 10 wall art pieces, but Diakité also included other forms. She sold denim jackets with her artwork on the back and showcased a video art piece.
“It’s really Americana with a big cultural African background. America is really Africa and she portrays that and marries it really well,” said Nancy Usher, who came out to see Diakité’s art. “The music, as well, is just wonderful and there’s a nice mixture of cultures in this crowd.”
Music played a great role at the art show. Throughout the night there were sounds of Afrobeats from the DJ. About halfway into the event Diakité gave a thank you speech and introduced a live West African music performance with drums and powerful xylophone sounds. The crowd joined in with the music, clapping and dancing along.
“This has a good vibe,” said Taneisha Jackson, who saw Diakité’s art on Instagram before coming out. “I like going to art galleries and seeing that she’s a Black woman, there was live music, and it was free, I definitely had to come and I’m glad that I did.”
While ‘Made in America’ was a great art show, it also served as a place to mingle and meet art lovers. There was eclectic and detailed art, music with dance beats and a complimentary bar. The crowd was mixed with different age and racial groups. Some of the attendees were new to art and some had been going to art shows for years. It was a wonderful community event full of old friends going out for a night, and new friends meeting each other for the first time.
To see more of Penda Diakité’s art, visit www.pendadikite.com.