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Located within the former luxury department store Hahne & Co., SHINE's Changing Room draws inspiration from this history. A multifunctional space blending art deco aesthetics with practical dressing room functionality, studio space and a gallery. The studio offers comfortable seating nooks and amenities such as a makeup table, bridal riser, clothing rack, and steamer. Featured artists are invited to create projects that inspire and elevate people.


a spirited house of blues for we

April 18 – June 30, 2024

We are proud to present new artworks by Adama Delphine Fawundu created during her year-long artist-in-residence with SHINE Portrait Studio at Express Newark. The displayed works within SHINE’s main studio encompass various spaces, featuring a photographic backdrop installation and wearable garments sewn by Newark based designer Marco Hall. These pieces, doubling as props, are freely available for any studio users to incorporate into their own works. Additionally, Fawundu has produced a series of photographic self-portraits using the backdrop and garments. These works, entitled “Kpoto Alchemy,” are featured in SHINE's "Changing Room." 

In Express Newark's main two-story stairwell, Fawundu has created an installation entitled "a spirited house of blues for we," consisting of draped, large-scale textile pieces. Together, the works within SHINE and the stairwell bookend Fawundu's immersive installation, "Who We Be," showcased in Express Newark's "Blues People" exhibit.

Among Fawundu's other creations is an artist's book titled "When the Water Sings," published by SHINE PRESS as part of the "House of Prayer" series. Additionally, Fawundu, alongside Che Buford, presented a performance art piece titled "close your eyes, listen to our breath," inviting audiences to engage in an improvised exploration of sounds, movement, and energies, fostering an environment for positive collective imagination and manifestation.

Fawundu's residency has been seamlessly integrated into a year-long course titled "Problems in Contemporary Art," led by Anthony Alvarez. Alvarez, serving as Assistant Director of SHINE Portrait Studio, Coordinator of Express Newark’s Free School, and Lecturer in the Fine Art Program

at Rutgers-Newark, dedicated the course to exploring and drawing inspiration from Fawundu's expansive artistic practice. Throughout the year, students engaged in reflective analyses of Fawundu's thematic explorations, delving into topics such as spiritual practice, healing, ancestral memory, and embodied knowledge. Through research and experimentation, students honed their own artistic voices, synthesizing newfound insights into their emerging works.

Fawundu's work at SHINE represents a multi-layered exploration of patterns and global experiences, melding history and knowledge in a spiritual dialogue reminiscent of her grandmother Adama's batik Garra fabrics. She uses symbolic materials such as raffia imported from the home of her ancestors, Mendeland (Sierra Leone), cowrie shells collected throughout West Africa, hair, elements of her Grandmother’s textiles as well as her global photographic archive. She often adorns herself with cowrie shells designed by Ivorian artist Lafalaise Dion, as they reflect ancient maternal philosophies.  Through her art, Fawundu shares and reshapes narratives – both told and untold – about individuals and bodies, often employing

her own body as a conduit for storytelling. In doing so, she constructs circular and interwoven patterns that transcend time and space.

Adama Delphine Fawundu is a photographer and visual artist born in Brooklyn, NY of Bubi, Mende, Bamileke, and Krim descent. Her distinct visual language centers on themes of indigenization and ancestral memory.


Fawundu co-published the critically acclaimed book MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. Fawundu’s solo exhibition, In the Spirit of Áṣẹ, was at the Newark Museum of Art from April 2023 to March 2024. Her awards include a 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship, the Catchlight Fellowship, the Anonymous Was A Woman Award, New York Foundation for The Arts Photography Fellowship, and the Rema Hort Mann Artist Grant, amongst others. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art; Princeton University Museum; Bryn Mawr College; The Petrucci Family Foundation of African American Art, Asbury, NJ; The Brooklyn Historical Society; Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach; The David C. Driskell Art Collection, College Park, MD; and a number of private collections. She is an Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at Columbia University.

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