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An Interview with Ashanti Africana

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

Digital collage artist Ashanti Carpio (known as Ashanti Africana on Instagram) combines a variety of influences to create her vapor wave, tribal-inspired collages. Her work mixes personal experiences with history, modern culture, and a healthy dose of humor.

A Target Tag creator, Ashanti is also known for her colorful and varied personal style. Whether it's a fur coat or a graphic tee, it's really her humble-yet-bold attitude that sells the fit. Like her art, her outfits appear to draw inspiration from an array of time periods and fashion icons. Never one to shy away from politics, Ashanti also uses her platform as an influencer to speak about issues that are important to her; prominent themes in her work include female empowerment and diversity.

Although any one of these things would make Ashanti a huge inspiration to me, I think what I most appreciate about her work (and try to emulate in my own projects) is how seamlessly she is able to include all of these seemingly separate missions and entities into her persona and creative endeavors. Her art is political without ever being too on-the-nose with its commentary. Her fashion sense parallels her art in an unexpectedly beautiful way, all without trying. The strength of her work lies in its authenticity and spontaneity.

How do you describe your work to others?

That’s the hardest question! It’s sometimes so hard for me to describe my art. People around me will describe it just by saying “it’s Africana," But to put it simply I make groovy digital creations touching on subjects like Afro Futurism, 90’s culture, Black Culture and feminism.  

What's the biggest risk you've taken creatively?

Trying to build an art installation at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor with water bottles and Mylar paper. It was the craziest project I’ve ever had but came out so wonderful! 

What's the best part about being a Target Tag creator?

My new family! I mean, of course just being apart of this movement is unbelievable, but gaining life long friends has been the biggest reward. 

How does digital collage art differ from other forms of art? Why do you like it?

I love digital collage just because of the freedom it gives me! I started off doing these collages because of my love for videos and films. I’ve always wanted to create elaborate videos whether that be music videos or actual movies. Using old clips and graphics to portray what I’m feeling or thinking just adds another element to my self expression. The one way it’s different other forms of art is that it’s cheap! Lol.

What's your favorite piece that you've done?

My favorite piece is actually a painting I did 6 years ago that is currently hanging in the Student Advocacy Center in Ypsilanti, MI. It’s a painting of a girl reading a sign stating “You will travel far & wide." Looking back on the painting, I now see it as more of a self portrait...

What makes your voice as an artist unique?

The fact that I am me! We all have a unique voice with tons of things to say. I just hope that my voice is heard and resonates...

Do you follow or get inspiration from artists that create similar works to yours, or do you prefer to distance yourself from that to preserve your natural creativity?

Great question! In order to feel inspired I love following artists like myself. Not too many though, but it gives me a boost in a way. I’m never concerned about being original because I know I have my own style. 

Does your artistic style influence your personal style?

Most definitely! I am art, art is me. 

What philosophy informs your art? Do you consider it to be social commentary, or is it more based on aesthetics?

Definitely both! Of course you want your work to catch the eye of the view so aesthetics are very important but the message is what I do it for. 

Images used in collage via @ashantiafricana


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