Abena Motaboli

Abena Motaboli (she/her) is a Basotho - Ghanian, educator, visual artist, and writer based in Chicago. She grew up in Lesotho, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, before moving to the U.S where she obtained her bachelor's degree in Fine Arts at Columbia College Chicago and at L'institut Catholique de Paris in Paris, France.

Her practice is interdisciplinary, performative, and experimental. She is inspired by plants, nature, and our living world. Motaboli finds joy in using pigments of the earth, working with flowers, learning about the plants around her and creating art from ephemeral materials. She is also interested in tracing the route of colonialism through plants such as tea, coffee, and dandelions, while deeply listening to them. Her use of tea stems back to her childhood, where she grew up surrounded by numerous tea ceremonies and storytelling with visitors over tea.

With a strong commitment to social justice work in the South and West sides of Chicago and being an immigrant, her artwork comments on displacement, immigration, the African diaspora, and the loss of the sense of home. She invites the audience to find a space to contemplate through installation, abstract work, or through vivid bright colors in mural work.

She has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibits such as Confluence at Heaven Gallery - Chicago, The Other Art Fair Chicago, SOFA, Chicago, Bhavan Gallery - based in London, Woman Made Gallery - Chicago, DIFFA Pop-Up Gold Coast Gallery, and Aqua Art Miami to name a few. Her work is also placed in private collections throughout the U.S. Motaboli also has a few poems published with Northeastern Illinois University’s annual SEEDS Literary and Visual Arts Journal.

A day in the studio