Shani Jamila is a Brooklyn based artist and cultural producer who explores identity formation in African American and African diasporic communities. She makes abstract pointillist paintings and soundscapes that utilize her family’s genealogical records as a primary source. Her travels to more than fifty countries throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean also deeply inform her practice. She has exhibited and performed at the Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art, Ethelbert Cooper Gallery, Centro Provincial de Artes Plásticas y Diseño, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Brooklyn Museum, New Museum, Smack Mellon, SCOPE Art Fair, Corridor Gallery and Princeton University. Her work is featured in publications including The Iowa Review, MFON Photo, Black Renaissance Noire, and volumes from Duke University Press and One World Random House.
Shani lectures internationally, having spoken about the arts and society at institutions including Harvard, Odeon Firenze, NYU, the New York Times and the United Nations. In addition, she’s facilitated live artist talks at organizations such as the Aperture Foundation, Schomburg Center, Harlem Stage, New York Live Arts and the Lincoln Center. Her podcast + portrait project, Lineage, is an archive of intimate, in-depth, artist to artist conversations about ancestry with some of our most imaginative thinkers– including MacArthur geniuses, Pulitzer Prize winners, Guggenheim fellows and Bessie Award recipients. She is the director of the meditative film, We Hold These Truths, produced with the Park Avenue Armory, which features an intergenerational cohort of contemporary socially engaged Black artists.
A curator of initiatives that merge culture and human rights, she’s served as a mentor for the Soho House’s creative industry inclusion program and NEW INC, the first museum-led cultural incubator. She was also the first alumni member to sit on the national selection committee for the New Voices fellowship, which allocated resources to rebuild the post-Katrina Gulf Coast. Shani is the co-founder of the Taneya Gethers Muhammad Memorial Scholarship, a fund that supports Spelman students with a demonstrated commitment to scholar activism.
Shani has been awarded fellowships and residencies to support her work from MASS MoCA, TED, the Aspen Institute, Ace Hotel, Brooklyn Arts Council, Cornell University, the National Arts Club, and the J. William Fulbright Foundation. Once named “One of our 35 Most Remarkable Women” by ESSENCE magazine, her portrait and quote are featured in “A Choice to Change the World,” a permanent installation of artists and advocates at her alma mater Spelman College. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Africana Studies from the University of California Los Angeles and certification from the International Institute for Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.
CV available upon request.
Click here to watch Shani’s TED Talk, “Reimagining Resistance Through Art.”