“I am a Woman
– Maya Angelou
Taking the words of Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’ as their map, Cape Town’s luxury bag brand BLAC Designs teamed up with mixed media artist Anna Bu Kliewer on a collage project titled Phenomenal Woman.
In an interview with founder and creative director of BLAC Designs Hamzeh Alfarahneh expressed that women have always been the primary source of inspiration for her designs. Intrigued by London-based artist Anna’s deconstruction and reconstruction of found images through a surrealist lens and the political undertones in her work, Hamzeh felt as though Anna would be able to bring his vision to life. Together they conceptualized four collage images as a way to pay homage to the multiple ways of being that women possess.
With the poetic words of Maya Angelou, Safiyya al-Baghadiyya, Princess Walladabint al-Mustakfi and Anna Laetitia Barbauld resonating with both Hamzeh and Anna, they took these as their starting points, transforming the words and the feelings they evoked into Anna’s signature surrealist visuals. Speaking to Hamzeh he explained that each pair of image and poem speak to a particular theme. The Smoke collage and the words of Maya Angelou are paired to represent the power of women. The words of 12th century slave and writer Safiyya al-Baghadiyya work with the Floral collage reflect on the sexual power that women possess. The Scarf collage works with the words of Princess Walladabint al-Mustakfi of medieval Cordoba to reflect on the theme of diversity and freedom. The Feminine collage and the words of English poet and woman’s rights activist in the 17th century, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, speaks to the power of women to rise up. “We wanted whomever is looking at the project to relate with some or all of these woman, thus we have taken out any identifying features of the models,” Hamzeh explained.
Phenomenal Woman forms part of a series of collaborations involving artists that BLAC will be working on throughout the year. Check out their website to keep up with what they have planned for the year.