Amani Lewis Is Keeping Faith In Art Alive
This feature is in the December "The Creators" Issue. Click here to subscribe.
Amani Lewis in their studio PHOTO BY JADE LILLY/COURTESY OF LGDR
Amani Lewis (@amanilewis_) is a true delight. The 28-year-old Baltimorian transplanted to Miami laughs freely and sprinkles their conversation with the slang of their age and words like, “cappin”, “on God,” “buss down jewelry” and “dirty expensive.”
Installation view of Amani Lewis’ Nothing Remains the Same series at Salon 94 in New York City in 2021 including works “Sorority Kid: Dre” (2021) and “The first time I wondered if we were southern was here in this moment. Grandma, Weldina and Clayton” (2021) ARTWORK AND INSTALLATION PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND SALON 94 GALLERY, NEW YORK
It is a pleasure for the ears. Accordingly, Lewis’ work is a feast for the eyes. Trained as a painter at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Lewis’ most popular work thus far utilizes collage with manipulated digital images, glitter (“sparkly things are my vibe”), acrylic and other materials for works saturated in color and texture. Lewis calls Nothing Remains the Same, a series of intimate family portraits remixed and most recently on display at Salon 94 in New York City, “somber because I wasn’t actually alive [then],” yet the works still emit powerful feelings of love, warmth and harmony—as well as great hairstyles and clothes from the ’70s and ’80s.
Amani Lewis, “Mother Mary and Brenda” (2021). ARTWORK AND INSTALLATION PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND SALON 94 GALLERY, NEW YORK
Lewis’ final exhibit of the year, It’s from the light that we are found, blessed and guided, recently opened in Paris and unveils a series of 12 new mixed media paintings in prismatic compositions. Lewis says these are the closure of their community- or social-justice-focused exhibitions (started in 2015, with the death of fellow Baltimorian Freddie Gray), from which the artist gave proceeds from the sale of said works to other creatives, activists and victims of state violence. Then it’s time for some needed time off.
A closer look at Lewis’ technique PHOTO BY JADE LILLY/COURTESY OF LGDR
“I’m having a calling to slow down, and I’m just listening and acting accordingly,” Lewis says. “I’m just going to be experimenting. I don’t know what’s going to come out of it, but trust in the process.”
Amani Lewis AMANI LEWIS PHOTO BY JADE LILLY/COURTESY OF LGDR
In 2017, Lewis founded CLR’D, a collective that focuses on amplifying other artists of color, and last year, Lewis curated a show with 13 other artists they admired and respected on LiveArt. To some in the art world, this type of synergy is anathema.
Installation view of Amani Lewis’ Nothing Remains the Same series at Salon 94 in New York City in 2021 including works “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance... I hope you Dance” (2021) and “We barely knew her... but one thing we did know was... she was the flyest of them all. Ms. Mary” (2021)ARTWORK AND INSTALLATION PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND SALON 94 GALLERY, NEW YORK
“I feel like a lot of people in the art world get very competitive. And people have these rules that don’t matter,” says Lewis. “Collaborations are fun. Who is to say that my vision and their vision can’t meet up and make something banging?”
Lewis using glitter in their work. AMANI LEWIS PHOTO BY JADE LILLY/COURTESY OF LGDR
“MY FAITH IS DEFINITELY THE REASON WHY I MAKE ART. I HAVE NO OTHER REASON TO PRODUCE IMAGES BUT TO GIVE GOD THE GLORY AND DO TO HIS WILL.” –AMANI LEWIS