On Thursday night in Overtown, artist Doba Afolabi was showing his work at the Art Africa show.
Afolabi is from Nigeria. He used to live in Miami, but left for Brooklyn a while ago.
Up close, his paintings look like abstracts in brightly-colored oil paint. But stand a few feet back, and a cellist in a top hat emerges. Or two saxophone players against a fiery background. One painting is called “Ride the Storm.” That’s the piece he did after his house burned down. Painting, he says, is what keeps him happy and centered.
“I want to make something that gives my spirit and soul and makes me stable in this insane world,” he said.
Another Nigerian artist living in Brooklyn, Laolu Senbanjo, has a piece here called “Black Lives Matter” he created in 2013. That title is the same as the popular Twitter hashtag and slogan that emerged after the recent killings of unarmed black men.
Senbanjo's "Black Lives Matter" is a charcoal drawing of Emmett Till, Martin Luther King, Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin. A confederate flag is on one side. The U.S. flag on the other.
Senbanjo says he feels like he needs to keep adding to this work.
"I mean, I would add Eric Gardner, that happened," he says. "I would add Ferguson, Mike Brown."
Several of the works in the show depict how difficult it can be living as a black person right now.