Interior Maximalism: How These Women Creators are Bringing a New Perspective to Art

By Leziga Barikor | November 29, 2022

This feature is in the October Style Issue. Click here to subscribe.

Reclaim your interior space with touches of artwork from artists Andile Bokweni, Shefon N. Taylor and Uma Gokhale.

While a blank canvas may represent openness and opportunity, a brightly filled one invites us to dream and remember. In the golden age of nostalgia, the renaissance of maximalism is to be expected. Gone are the days of white walls and tan furniture—the tide has turned in favor of the ornate and excessive.

Shefon N. Taylor, “Untitled” (2022) PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS
Shefon N. Taylor, “Untitled” (2022) PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS

In early 2020, many creatives like Andile Bokweni (@artbyandileh) found themselves suddenly out of work. Needing to pivot, Bokweni turned to her childhood passion for illustrated art, a process that was both a good stress coping mechanism and empowering.

“Using art as a coping mechanism [led] to me finding meaning and a voice,” she says.

As a Black creative based in South Africa, Bokweni originally studied film and TV production, going on to be a freelance video editor until the pandemic. Although she hadn’t previously pursued art on a professional level, she found it was a great way to continue honing her storytelling skills.

Andile Bokweni, “Pride of My Sisters” (2022) PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS
Andile Bokweni, “Pride of My Sisters” (2022) PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS

“I’m a storyteller at heart, and I use visuals to express my thoughts,” she says, “[to] start conversations around the evolving culture of Black people, more in particular Black women.”

Most of Bokweni’s portraits are of Black women with featureless faces existing in dreamy soft-textured surroundings. The color choices appear subdued, but that only adds to the ambiance of the scenes depicted— whether they are standing in a field of flowers or sitting by the sea.

Shefon N. Taylor (@shefontaylor) is another artist whose works take on a more ephemeral tone. A collage artist from Wilmington, Del., Taylor’s work mixes mediums like vintage magazines, fabrics and photographs, among other elements.

Shefon N. Taylor, “Tomorrow Is Promised” (2021). PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS
Shefon N. Taylor, “Tomorrow Is Promised” (2021). PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS

“I AM CREATING WITH SOME HOPE THAT THESE LINES DRAW BACK TO MYSELF; TO HAVE SOME CONVERSATIONS WITH THE PAST, REIMAGINE THE PRESENT AND CONTEMPLATE MY OWN FUTURE.” –SHEFON N. TAYLOR

“I’m not sure imagination has regard for medium; its only desire is expression,” Taylor says.

With the various vintage pieces she works with coming from her own family archives, the sense of nostalgia from Taylor’s work is palpable.

Andile Bokweni, “Growth” (2021) PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS
Andile Bokweni, “Growth” (2021) PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS

“I would position myself as an artist who is making work in an effort to find her way home,” she says. “I am creating with some hope that these lines draw back to myself; to have some conversations with the past, reimagine the present and contemplate my own future.”

For Uma Gokhale, the founder of 83 Oranges (@83oranges.com_), her artistic journey began from the moment she opened her eyes in Orange City, N.J., as she drew inspiration from both life experiences and the world around her. After initially going down the physicist career path, with the support of her family Gokhale was able to quit her job to focus on her true passion full time.

“ART BRINGS LIFE INTO A ROOM; IT’S LIKE HAVING A PLANT TO PURIFY THE AIR OR A WINDOW TO ALLOW LIGHT IN.”**–ANDILE BOKWENI **

Now relocated to her parents’ home country of India, Gokhale runs a successful bohemian art business selling both works by her and other artists with similar styles using rich, warm colors.

“I like to make art that promotes happy thoughts and brightens up your day,” Gokhale says of her target audience.

Uma Gokhale, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” (2022). PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS
Uma Gokhale, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” (2022). PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS

This also applies to the art she uses to decorate her own living space, especially botanicals and bright abstract pieces.

“The modern bohemian home tells a story of its individual and complex inhabitant,” says Gokhale. “It’s meant to encourage us to live more in the present moment and to follow what brings us joy.”

Uma Gokhale, “Bring the Jungle Home” (2020).PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS
Uma Gokhale, “Bring the Jungle Home” (2020).PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTISTS

Photography by: courtesy of artists