Enam Gbewonyo

Performance Artist | Textile Artist

Enam’s enchantment with textile making begun as a little girl with a visit to a small weaving community somewhere in her ancestral home of Eweland, Ghana. Weaving is intrinsic to the Ewe tribe’s way of life; forming part of their story telling, their ceremony and celebration. Its processes are heralded as meditative and healing and its origins cosmic – bedded in the myth that spiders taught the Ewe’s to weave. A tale she learnt in later years on artistic pilgrimage, a lightbulb moment which justified her long held obsession with the spider’s web. An obsession which has unveiled itself in numerous works, including her final year BA Textile Design body of work.

Enam’s journey is an ever-spinning web of self-discovery. Her latest chapter, the revelation of her talent for performance. A skill uncovered through her current body of work, Nude me/ Under the Skin. Nude Me investigates hosiery, particularly how this seemingly simple garment, a staple of western women’s wardrobe has for the black woman been another mode of marginalisation, ostracisation and castration. Finding she needed another vehicle to tell the stories and personal epiphanies she was unearthing, performance became fundamental. Each Nude Me performance activates Enam’s artwork through movement and spoken word. These activations create powerful live spaces for healing both for the artist and her audience.

It is these personal experiences of craft’s healing power that fuels her advocacy. With her work, Enam seeks to deliver our collective consciousness to a positive place of awareness by creating live spaces of healing. Particularly addressing our global violent history, which prohibits us as a humanity from moving forward in a positive light. By using craft as her portal she pushes us to face the truth of our dark history and the emotions it brings forth, learn acceptance and heal. Through this process, she brings us to a point of spiritual awareness both of self and humanity.

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Selected
artworks

Fair Skinned like Brown Paper? , 2020

nylon tights (Sheer Chemistry, Parisian Dream) with cotton thread hand stitching and embroidery, acrylic and tea stained tissue paper on tea stained canvas 120 x 160cm
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Under the Vein II , 2018

tights, ink and embroidery on tissue paper
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Bigger than the picture they framed us to see , 2019

burnout recycled tights, cotton thread on vintage picture frame 116.5x86x6.5cm
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agbegbɔgbɔ , 2019

Taking direct inspiration from Senga Nengudi’s body of work, and specifically channelling Sandmining’s themes of Native American healing along with Nengudi’s love of African ceremony most apparent in Ceremony for Freeway Fets. This activation harnessed the symboloy and cultural practices inherent in Enam's Ewe (Ghana) heritage to become both a response and conversation.
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Nude Me/Under The Skin: The Awakening of Black Women’s Visibility one Pantyhose at a Time at Venice Biennale , 2019

This performance of healing speaks to the sensuality of the female form, and the elasticity and malleability of the human body. It represents the many forms of bondage that constrict the black woman to fit a mould not intended for her. To arrive at the point of reclamation and awakening, black women must face the pain of their ancestor’s past, before releasing it, and opening up space to receive their love and heal.
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Nude Me/Under the Skin: The Awakening of Black Women’s Visibility One Pantyhose at a Time, Part II at Christie’s Lates , 2019

The performance suggests a rite of passing for the object that served black women well, black tights. Having now found her beauty in her own shade of nude, Enam says goodbye to an item that has protected and shielded black women from the reality of their invisibility. By winding the tights around the mirror frame she unbinds herself from the many forces that once constricted her into a form not her own. She can now emerge through the mirror confident in her skin to boldly occupy her visibility and space as her true self.
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Woven in the Seams – Worn Up, Wound Down , 2019

Recycled tights and cotton thread on tea stained picture frame 33 x 45 cm
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Teetering on the edge of visibility, the invisible disguised as visible , 2018

Vintage Family and Erotica photographs on tea stained paper, tights, acrylic paint and cotton thread stitching on canvas 30 x 30 x 4.5 cm
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Woven in the Seams – Worn Up, Wound Down III , 2019

Recycled tights and cotton thread on tea stained picture frame 33 x 45 cm
ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

Fair Skinned like Brown Paper?

2020

nylon tights (Sheer Chemistry, Parisian Dream) with cotton thread hand stitching and embroidery, acrylic and tea stained tissue paper on tea stained canvas

120 x 160cm

ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

Under the Vein II

2018

tights, ink and embroidery on tissue paper

ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

Bigger than the picture they framed us to see

2019

burnout recycled tights, cotton thread on vintage picture frame

116.5x86x6.5cm

ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

agbegbɔgbɔ

2019

Taking direct inspiration from Senga Nengudi’s body of work, and specifically channelling Sandmining’s themes of Native American healing along with Nengudi’s love of African ceremony most apparent in Ceremony for Freeway Fets. This activation harnessed the symboloy and cultural practices inherent in Enam's Ewe (Ghana) heritage to become both a response and conversation.

ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

Nude Me/Under The Skin: The Awakening of Black Women’s Visibility one Pantyhose at a Time at Venice Biennale

2019

This performance of healing speaks to the sensuality of the female form, and the elasticity and malleability of the human body. It represents the many forms of bondage that constrict the black woman to fit a mould not intended for her. To arrive at the point of reclamation and awakening, black women must face the pain of their ancestor’s past, before releasing it, and opening up space to receive their love and heal.

ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

Nude Me/Under the Skin: The Awakening of Black Women’s Visibility One Pantyhose at a Time, Part II at Christie’s Lates

2019

The performance suggests a rite of passing for the object that served black women well, black tights. Having now found her beauty in her own shade of nude, Enam says goodbye to an item that has protected and shielded black women from the reality of their invisibility. By winding the tights around the mirror frame she unbinds herself from the many forces that once constricted her into a form not her own. She can now emerge through the mirror confident in her skin to boldly occupy her visibility and space as her true self.

ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

Woven in the Seams – Worn Up, Wound Down

2019

Recycled tights and cotton thread on tea stained picture frame

33 x 45 cm

ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

Teetering on the edge of visibility, the invisible disguised as visible

2018

Vintage Family and Erotica photographs on tea stained paper, tights, acrylic paint and cotton thread stitching on canvas

30 x 30 x 4.5 cm

ENQUIRE

Enam Gbewonyo

Woven in the Seams – Worn Up, Wound Down III

2019

Recycled tights and cotton thread on tea stained picture frame

33 x 45 cm

ENQUIRE
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Projects

Last January, art gallery WE COLLECT and MTArt Agency co-hosted the exhibition Drivers for the Future, a group show curated by Olimpia Saccone featuring works by our artists Enam Gbewonyo, Elisa Insua, David Aiu, Shuster+Mosley and Adelaide Damoah. The exhibition aimed to offer a perspective on the main timely fights that the new generations are standing for, the battles that will lead to a better future.

Follow Enam Gbewonyo on Instagram

@enamgd

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