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Rising Stars: Meet Arit Emmanuela Etukudo of Mount Vernon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Arit Emmanuela Etukudo.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, how did you get started?
Storytelling has always been my first love. Through poetry, music, film, photography, theatre, sculpture, and then back to film. I loved how it was possible to tell a whole story by examining its pieces. That reflected how I exist, a full story held in layers. Through a journey of creating self-portraits, I learned that I exist in a vastness of layers, realms, and events. This is how I create my art. I dissect, combine then make communion.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
One of my earliest struggles was finding my “why.” When I first began taking self-portraits and trying to get into fine art spaces, I was constantly told my work did not fit their aesthetic. This aesthetic is the white cube; my job turned into retaliation against these spaces; I used my body in my art as an act of defiance. I later realized there was more to my art than being a means of battle. I know my “why” now. My work has far evolved since and now focuses on expressing the truths of being rather than on the thoughts and perceptions of predominantly white institutions. It is to bring light to How we exist beyond what is readily perceptible, how we are timeless, how we walked this earth before and after its creation, the building of this earth with our bodies, the magical frequency of our existence, and the expansiveness of our multi-dimensional being.

Please tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others.
My work explores the idea of self as it relates to AfroFrequency as the base of the Black Magical Experience. That is the ontology, mysticism, history, and metaphysical realities that live at the core of AfroExistence. I express this idea using self-portraiture, moving images, installation, collage, and poetry to create my mythology. My work examines the fluidity and metamorphosis of Black identities by transporting intimate metaphysical moments with my body onto physical spaces. Thus, my practice is creating a communion between my body. It’s subconscious identities. And witnesses inspired by the Agnicayana ritual of recomposing Prajapati’s body after cosmogenesis (where the god shattered while creating the universe) follow my existence, being re-formed and healed through ritual evocations of the identities within me. For example, the shadow self and the inner child. I recover the pieces of my identity – past, present, and future – and heal them together. I use the Black Radical Imagination to emancipate my black creation and existence from the bounds of society by unearthing, deconstructing, and reconstructing the existing ideas of self. My work acts as a meeting place for transformation and antiquity. I aim to create sacred instances of existence where the metaphysical and spiritual are brought to the physical realm. Here, viewers become witnesses and physically, emotionally, and sensually connect with the new worlds created by my identities.

What makes you happy?
Honesty makes me happy. A certain level of freedom comes with letting go of the barriers that keep us from being true to ourselves. Honesty feels like the ultimate form of freedom, and freedom makes me happy.


  • Please contact me for prices for commissions.

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