N.J. artist, Kilolo Kumanyika, uses her Native American and African American heritage as sources of inspiration for her work. Exposure to art as a child by her godfather, watercolorist, Nat Bickerstaff, and as a childhood member of the Brooklyn and Montclair Museums shaped her interest in art. Having worked with printmaker Robert Blackburn and continued work as a studio assistant for realist Philip Pearlstein for several years, has added to the variety of influences.
Working with a variety of media including paints, beads, textiles and natural fibers, Kilolo shows us color and culture with little restriction. Soft watercolor paintings built up of soft washes to textured masks compose this portfolio. Gauche and ink make frequent appearances in her paintings, especially over washes, creating a striking combination of negative space and vibrating color. Using this technique encourages the observer to try and look inside, around, or behind the work. Kilolo’s sculptural use of fabric in creating forms, such as masks and other figures, give them movement and presence. Intricate beadwork, used to create headdressesearrings, and neckwear, appear frequently in this body of work.Some of her most original creations are fluid designs painted on bare bellies of pregnant women. While art in themselves, however fleeting, photographs of the decorated anatomy are then produced. She is also a printmaker, ceramicist, furniture design, and photographer.Since attending Howard University and Montclair State University where she received B.A. in Graphic Design, Kilolo has been featured at several galleries including Robert Blackburn’s -The Printmaking Workshop in New York City, WBGO (Jazz 88.3) Gallery, and IandorFine Arts in Newark, NJ. Her work has also been published on the cover of ‘the original buckwheat’ (Long Shot Productions), a book of poetry by Reg E. Gaines, writer of the Broadway musical ‘Bring in da Noise Bring in da Funk.Kilolo has taught printmaking, bookmaking, graphic design, and other techniques at the Upward Bound Program of Bloomfield College. She also serves on the Steering Committee for Arts and Cultural Development for the township of Montclair, NJ, which created the township’s first arts plan.