Los Angeles based artist, Penda Diakité, 26, is putting on a free art exhibition at the Substrate Gallery in Hollywood on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Earlier this year, Diakité was scrolling Instagram when she saw a post about The Dean Collection, an organization of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys that helps fund shows for artists. She sent in her art samples and business plan for the show and this past June, she became a recipient of the $5,000 grant. Her art show will feature 10 pieces representing the beauty and struggle of being a person of color in America.
Diakité grew up with two artists for parents in Portland, Oregon. She had many art influences, the greatest being her time spent in Mali, where her dad is from, during school breaks. In 2010, she came out to California to attend and graduate from California Institute of the Arts and has been in Los Angeles creating and showcasing her art since.
“I’ve been doing art my whole life. Both of my parents are artists,” said Diakité. “The Malian culture is a very artistic culture too. Growing up around all the different aspects of art in Mali really influenced me.”
Her art crosses through different materials, from spray paint to sand, but this art show will focus on her collages. Diakité studied film while at Cal Arts and became intrigued with layering images. When she needed a break from watching a screen, she would take paper with words or other small images and make them into a larger character.
“I got into making collages because it was a tangible layering. I love that I can take different aspects of anything and put them side by side,” said Diakité.
The pieces in this show are strong and raw with a background of black and white target signs met with colorful collages of a person of color in the center. The collages are full of so many different images, from African tribal print to the American flag, to different words and body features of people of color. Each piece a reflection of Diakité’s experiences as a bicultural woman in the U.S. and Mali, along with some influences of life as an immigrant in the U.S.
Diakité has participated in many shows with multiple artists, but this is her first big show where every piece is created by her. While Diakité loves creating art, she appreciates the learning experience that the grant has given her.
“It’s been a lot of work for me to put a whole exhibition on by myself and create all the work in this amount of time. Usually I just have to focus on the art.” said Diakité. “It’s been hard but also rewarding learning how to put a show together, how to market it, and learning all of the little technical details that go with setting up a show.”
Along with the collage pieces, there will be a section with moving images projected at the show as well as live Malian music. The art show is free but also requires an RSVP. To book your entry into Diakité’s Made in America Exhibition, visit pendadiakite.com.