We met Cedric Umoja at the debut of Visual Achemy: Afrofuturism, an exhibit featuring the collected works of Umoja, Krigga & Roni Nicole Henderson. There he stood in a wide brimmed fedora, symbols circling his gold chain, African prints layering his harem pants, and a pair of retro sneakers commanding your attention. A look that was funky yet familiar. Fresh yet powerful. A look that reflected in his artwork. We began to talk about art, music festivals, and somehow landed on the topic of seafood where we insisted that he try Nana's Seafood downtown, but that's a whole other ministry. Get ready for a superfunkyafrofuturistic ride as we introduce to you, Cedric Umoja.
Who is Cedric Umoja and when did he fall in love with his art?
Cedric Umoja is an all Creative. Though, I'm known mostly for large paintings and murals, I also do collage..drawings..sculpture and a bit of acting.
I first fell in love with my art around seven years ago. It was around that time I began to discover my true self..my true voice! As an artist speaking from one's genuine self can be difficult for many different reasons, but once it's discovered, creating art can be so rewarding!
Nina Simone once said that it is an artist's job to reflect the times. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
I agree with completely with the Queen. Art provides many great opportunities for teachable moments! It gives the artist means of informing..educating..translating..and speaking upon what effects..affects but also infects society. This is a great responsibility the artist has been charged with!
What shift do we need in the culture? How do we shift it?
The culture has been shifting back to representing the heart, or at least this is how I see it. Artists having pride in their cultural heritage and reflecting it in a modern voice with modern means.
Since this has been the norm now for a few years, we as artists should continue to celebrate..cultivate..propagate the heart, which is that part of ourselves that innately speaks from our DNA.
You told us about your collective the Black Opera. Explain more of how you all came about and what you plan to execute as a whole?
I'm the newest member of The Black Opera, which is a music and art collective based out of Detroit and Los Angeles. I currently have a few projects in the works with The Black Opera I have to keep under wraps for the time being.
Right now, the newest release from The Black Opera is a beat project from Magestik Legend called "Sketch Therapy" featuring Opio ( from Souls of Mischief) and Jamall ( Buff 1) Bufford, which on Bandcamp and soon to be on I Tunes, Amazon, Spotify.
So, what can we expect to see next from you?
The Black Opera is ever evolving artistically!
Currently, I'm working on a small tour of a group exhibition featuring Roni Nicole Henderson and Dogon Krigga, it's called Visual Alchemy : Afrofuturism. This exhibition is currently showing in Charleston, SC. It will also be shown in Richmond, Va and Philadelphia, Pa.
I also have two huge commission projects in the works, one of which is Public art.
Later this Fall, I have a major mural project in Columbia, SC along with Karl Zurfluh and Brandon Donahue.
Then, another group exhibition in Charlotte, NC at Revolution Ego with Infamous JeanClaude and Dogon Krigga.