Artist. Visionary. Interdisciplinary Creator.
Working across a variety of mediums, Nanci Amaka is a masterful contemporary artist who holds multiple roles in the Hawaiʻi creative community, in addition to being a mother. As an interdisciplinary creator, Nanci explores ideas surrounding trauma, ancestry, memory and West African Animism. Born in Nigeria, Nanci now resides in Honolulu with her ʻohana, and is known for creating artworks that are both emotive and magical.
Meet: Nanci Amaka
Born & Raised: Nigeria
Currently Reside: Waiʻalae Nui
Occupation/Titles: Artist, Art & Cultural Consultant, Mother
As a multimedia artist what have been some common reference points across your bodies of work?
Themes of transcendence, communion, and identity run through my work. Although I always remain true to who I am at the time period I create my work, I’m usually thinking about the events that preceded and trying to weave together what is to come. I’m also curious about how others define and frame themselves based on their history and aspirations.
How has Hawaiʻi and more specifically, the Big Island, been an inspiration point in your newest photography series?
I grew up in Nigeria. First in a rainforest village in the southeast, and before moving to the USA, I lived in Subsaharan Northern Nigeria which has a vastly different climate. Hawai’i reminds me so much of home. The flora is very similar and so is the ‘mood’ of the land. In my latest body of work, I was engaged in a lot of communing with landscapes as a means of transcending psychological boundaries. I selected spaces that evoked memories of my ancestral home. Lucky me that Hawai’i, halfway around the globe from Nigeria, holds a lot of the same energy.
Being a mother to a young daughter, how do you think communities can better support working mothers?
The most important laborers are often invisible. Somehow our society has delegated child-rearing to a whole different part of our psyches. The current pandemic shone a light on just how much work goes into nurturing children with many now schooling from home. Ideally whichever parent that ends up being the primary caregiver in every household would have economic and social support systems in place to help alleviate the anxiety that goes along with it. Unfortunately, it seems that those who have to be supportive of quarantined children also end up losing their jobs and are further abandoned. Which is an incredible shame.
What’s the last book you read?
I just started reading “Undrowned - Black Feminist Lessons From Marine Mammals” by Alexis Pauline Gumbs.
Favorite takeout or restaurants?
The Tea Leaf salad from Dagon restaurant off King Street in Honolulu is an exceptional experience.
What does “be aloha” mean to you?
“Be The Aloha” sounds like a call to action. Instead of waiting for goodness to happen to you. It means honoring the goodness that already is by protecting it, nurturing it, and embodying it through daily actions.
The Be Aloha Spotlight Series shares the stories of our Hawai'i community through the lens of its people. Get to know the artisans, community leaders, small business owners, and advocates of Hawai'i as we uncover the aloha they wish to see in the world. All imagery credited to Kenna Reed.