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Celebrating Identity: “Blooms of Black Joy” by Ciku Njigua

Blooms of Black Joy by Ciku Njigua. Digital.


An Interview with Ciku Njigua


What type of art do you make? What is your primary medium (or mediums?)

My artistic expression primarily takes the form of mixed media collage, where I blend various visual elements to convey narratives and emotions. I enjoy the process of combining different images, textures, and colors to create layered compositions that reflect the complexities of black joy and identity. And from time to time, I pick up my oil and acrylic paints and brushes accumulating dust somewhere in my apartment.

Tell us the story behind your Prism submission, “Blooms of Black Joy.”

The story behind my Prism submission, “Blooms of Black Joy,” is deeply personal and rooted in my own experiences as a black artist. This art zine project is a culmination of my journey of self-discovery and celebration, where I intentionally weave together themes of blackness, queerness, love, and resilience. Each image within the zine encapsulates moments of joy and camaraderie within black communities, offering a counter-narrative to mainstream depictions.

How does your cultural or personal identity inform your creative work? Would you say that your background influences a lot of your creative process?

My cultural and personal identity serve as the foundation of my creative work. As a black artist, my experiences, struggles, and triumphs inform every brushstroke and collage selection. My background not only influences but shapes the very essence of my creative process, guiding me to center my narratives around the nuances of black life and joy.

Do you find that there are parts of your identity that have felt consistent or reliable throughout your life? Have you found that other parts have grown over time?

Throughout my life, certain aspects of my identity have remained consistent, such as my unwavering commitment to uplifting black voices and narratives. However, other parts have evolved over time, especially as I’ve grown more comfortable embracing my unique form of self-expression and exploring intersectional identities within my art.

When it comes to personal expression, do you find yourself more called to tradition and past experience, or to contemporary issues and ongoing self-exploration?

In terms of personal expression, I find myself drawn to both tradition and contemporary issues. While I honor the rich traditions and cultural symbols within the black community, I also feel compelled to address ongoing social justice issues and engage in continuous self-exploration through my art.

Are there any other artists in your community or pieces connecting to your identity that have been creative influences on your artistic journey?

Several artists within my community have been influential in shaping my artistic journey. Their boldness, creativity, and dedication to authenticity inspire me to push boundaries and explore new avenues of expression within my work.

Has OSU had a positive, negative, or neutral effect on being able to explore and express yourself?

My experience at OSU has had a positive effect on my ability to explore and express myself as an artist. The university’s diverse community and supportive environment have provided me with valuable opportunities to showcase my work, engage in meaningful dialogue, and connect with fellow artists.

Tell us about a significant moment when art made an impact on your life.

One significant moment when art made an impact on my life was when I first saw myself represented in a piece of art created by a black artist. Seeing someone who looked like me depicted with dignity and pride instilled a sense of validation and empowerment within me, reinforcing the importance of representation in the art world. This moment ignited my passion for creating art that celebrates the beauty and resilience of blackness. That experience also helped me realize the power of art as a tool for self- expression and social commentary.




Biography: An artist from East Africa, Kenya. I fell in love with idea of self expression through art, be it through poems, paintings and even dancing i love the freedom that art gives me. There are no rules or right or wrong way to do art and i find that really beautiful.

Artist Statement: My paintings are painted in black to represent my past shadow self in my previous relationship, and ways in which i viewed my body, as a vessel from someone else source of enjoyment and so detached from self. Only alive when perceived by the other. I didn’t have the best relationship with myself during the relationship and it took me a whole year to finally come back to myself and undo the toxic relationship i had with myself And i guess doing these paintings was a way of apologizing to my past self and being so detached from her that i couldn’t hear my own cries for help.

Social Media: @cikunjigua and @njiguacreates on Instagram

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About the Contributor
Selene Lawrence
Selene Lawrence, Student Correspondent
Selene Lawrence (she/they) is PRISM’s student correspondent and online editorial assistant. She is an author, poet, musician, and visual and textile artist. Selene is pursuing a major of her own design: Traditional, Folkloric, and Popular Cultural Studies for Mass Media Communications with a writing minor.

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