National and international artists and members of the creative community came out in support of AFRICA’SOUT! second annual Celebration in benefit of AFRICA’SOUT! Initiatives x UHAI EASHRI at artist Dustin Yellin’s Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, New York.

Activist & Artist Ayana V. Jackson, Humanitarian & Creative Director Leigh Blake and L'Etage Magazine Editor-at-Large, Art Consultant & Designer Joakim von Ditmar (photo Jeanice Parker)

Activist & Artist Ayana V. Jackson, Humanitarian & Creative Director Leigh Blake and L’Etage Magazine Editor-at-Large, Art Consultant & Designer Joakim von Ditmar (photo Jeanice Parker)

An atmosphere comparable to a large family gathering full of love, joy and compassionate unity, the evening’s program comprised of a great artwork auction in collaboration with Paddle8, with works donated by a plethora of top contemporary artists from the African diaspora from Glenn LigonHugo McCloudAyana JacksonWilliam VillalongoLaToya Ruby FrazierRuby AmanzeLeonardo BenzantJacolby Satterwhite, to Kehinde Wileyand many more.

Limited edition art handbags were being sold throughout the evening, designed specifically in support of the fundraising efforts under the artistic direction of renown stylist Robert Verdi for the Great Bag Co. in collaboration with artists Derrick AdamsHank Willis ThomasMickalene Thomasand Dustin Yellin.

Style Expert Robert Verdi and the limited edition handbags he designed in collaboration with artists Mickalene Thomas, Hank Willis Thomas, Derrick Adams & Dustin Yellin with Joakim von Ditmar

Cherished hosts were Coleen KeeganJulie MehretuToby Tompkins and Robert Verdi, and patron was gallerist Jack Shainman.

The evening’s emcee Mr. Gandy kept the crowd in good spirits to celebrate the second year of AFRICA’SOUT!, it’s initiatives the inaugural Artists Residency Award in collaboration with Denniston Hill; founded by artists Julie Mehretu and Paul Pfeiffer and architectural theorist Lawrence Chua, selected was Kenyan artist Michael Soi as the first resident.

Tatiana Fazlalizadeh, creator of the Stop Telling Women to Smile campaign, was invited with Nairobi based None on Record by AFRICA’SOUT! to collaborate on a public art project ‘Love in South Africa’ / queer and in love, strong and powerful.

Artist Derrick Adams the Legendary Damon & our Editor-at-Large, art consultant & designer Joakim von Ditmar (photo Jeanice Parker)

Artist Derrick Adams the Legendary Damon & our Editor-at-Large, art consultant & designer Joakim von Ditmar (photo Jeanice Parker)

And to raise funds for UHAI Eashri -a grant-making initiative focused on sexual health and rights in East Africa- which was the great catalyst for the initiative, and an opportunity to engage a new, transnational audience, and facilitate an honest and heartfelt shout-out for equal rights for women and gender minorities on the African continent.

The 2016 honoree for Courage & Creativity was awarded to South African artist Zanele Muholi, for her activism and work that highlights the bravery, beauty and resilience of the LGBTI community in South Africa.

The guests enjoyed performances by Moon MedicinSantigold!Jojo Abot and Jidenna.

A VIP portrait booth session with renowned photographer Renee Cox, DJ sets by April Huntand MikeQ, an open bar sponsored by Bacardi, Casa Dragones, the Brooklyn Brewery etc and a seated dinner catered by Ghetto Gastro.

Needless to say it was a memorable all night affair that we were proud to have participated in.

AFRICA’SOUT! was founded by New York based, Nairobi born artist and activist Wangechi Mutu in 2014 as a creative, dynamic, far-reaching platform to initiate and amplify radical ideas that fundamentally change the way we ALL engage with Africa as a continent and an idea. The pulsing heart of AFRICA’SOUT! is made of imaginative Africans changing the narrative around Africa first and foremost for themselves.

AFRICA'SOUT! founder artist Wangechi Mutu (photo Joakim von Ditmar)

AFRICA’SOUT! founder artist Wangechi Mutu (photo Joakim von Ditmar)

Wangechi Mutu voiced in her acceptance speech for the REES Humanitarian Award at Amref Health Africa inaugural ArtBall last week in New York: “You know the thing about artists… Is that we get to do what we want to do. Yes. But it comes at a price; the gift of being an artist comes at a price, and it comes with a responsibility, and one of the responsibilities that I really really take seriously is that we get to speak on behalf of everyone else. We get to say what it is that humanity is doing that doesn’t make sense, or that’s kick-ass or incredible. And I love the fact that as an African artist, there’s this moment- should’ve happened many years ago- but there is this moment right now where we’re beginning to take African artists very very seriously. And for me, that is the opposite of where I came from when I first left Nairobi as a teenager.”

AFRICA’SOUT! is a bold loudspeaker and a groundbreaking proponent for gender and sexuality equality, demanding radical change through ‘Imaginative Activism’, creative brilliance, and new effective methods of articulation. Africa’sOut! highlights the urgency of these pressing issues through unique and dynamic platforms by harnessing the power of and from within the African Diaspora.

AFRICA’SOUT! represents the idea of transformation through the iconic image of a butterfly with Africa-shaped wings, symbolizing the essence of freedom, beauty and visibility to its fullest, and emphasizing how important creativity is in leading major changes across all areas.

We should all ask ourselves how are we using our voice, our platform?

With today’s technology and communication tools and platforms, all of us can make our voice be heard louder than ever before. It is up to us to choose to empower, uplift, encourage, educate each other, to choose love over hate. Rather than just focus on our egos and make it all about ourselves, getting consumed by the number of likes or followers we might have or not. We should ask ourselves what are we really contributing to making this world a better place?

No matter where we come from, race, cultural, social or ethnical backgrounds, or what gender we might be, Wangechi Mutu has not chosen to align herself with Martin Luther King Jr.‘s mindset, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”, because it gives her peace, but rather because she CAN, because it gives her joy. We can ALL make a difference and in light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, or the “closing the borders”-attitude as shown in the EU-referendum in Great Britain,  we can only pray and and do what we can to elevate each other and continue the fight for freedom and equality for all.

For more info visit instagram @africasout and and

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