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Kehinde Wiley Launches Artist Residency Program in Senegal

Kehinde Wiley.

KATHERINE MCMAHON/ARTNEWS

Kehinde Wiley has started a new artist residency in Dakar, Senegal, called Black Rock Senegal. The residency will bring together an international group of visual artists, writers, and filmmakers to work with the artist at his compound in the area.

“Black Rock Senegal came out of a direct need to engage Africa in a much more personal way,” the New York–based artist said in a statement. “After years of exploring the continent’s many cultures and countries I had a personal desire to create a workspace in West Africa. As an artist who works in the west I desired a space of renewal to explore new ideas and to create work outside of a western context—to create work within the context of my own lineage.”

Sean Kelly, whose eponymous gallery represents Wiley in New York, told ARTnews, “I think [the residency] represents a very personal desire from Kehinde to connect with his African heritage. He’s from LA, but his father is Nigerian. He’s travelled to Africa, but he didn’t grow up there. This represents an innate desire to really understand the culture he comes from and his roots.”

Black Rock is named for the volcanic rocks that can be found along Dakar’s coast. The program’s inaugural year will run from June 2019 to February 2020. While at Black Rock, residents will be offered room, board, and individual studio spaces, which they will occupy for between one and three months. Applications to the program close on April 15.

Kelly also said that Wiley considers a residency of his own, at New York’s Studio Museum in Harlem, a central part of his career, and Black Rock Senegal is partly intended to offer the same services that the artist received through that program. “He traces his career back to that point today as the time that sparked the beginning of his professional career,” Kelly said. “This gives him the opportunity to give back and enfranchise younger artists.”

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