Abena Motaboli

Abena Motaboli (she/her) is a Basotho - Ghanaian, 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. She is currently engaged with the Center For Humans and Nature as a Land Reciprocity Program Developer and in Land access research with the Kalliopeia Foundation.

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 her plant guides; 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 explores themes of displacement, immigration, the African diaspora and more. Central to her values is Ubuntu - our shared connection to land , each other, and this place we call home and she invites her audeinece to experience spaces 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.

Prairie Red - a short Film

This short Film was shot by @renavision & I on a beautiful extended Fall day near one of my favorite spots by the water 🌊 these waters that have seen me process everything, from mending my heart to utter happiness, to - just process. These waters offer me moments of play, spontaneity, delight, solace, space, moments … 🤍

❤️ Prairie Red ❤️
The blades of grass dance on my skin,
They whisper to me with the calm of an evening by the water.
The air warm,
Thick with promise,
Thick with the end of the summer
Thick with the passage of time -
Shifting seasons
Shifting transitions
Shedding old skins
Making space for the new
Transitions and movement
Movement and moving -
through grief, laughter, joy, spontaneity, reconnection with self - with self and others.

Healing -
And land.
Landing -
And constantly

These prairie blades whisper love notes to my soul.
Embracing my thoughts in the sun,
As if to say here we are.
Dance with me
And release what needs to be released.
Prairie red ❤️
You, are.