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Gallerist Mariane Ibrahim is Bringing African Art to the World

For almost the past decade, Mariane Ibrahim has been cultivating an audience for African contemporary art. Starting from a base in Seattle, it was a lonely beginning, but over the years, changing perceptions and a relocation of her gallery to Chicago brought about dramatic and positive change.  Representing 16 artists of African heritage, Ibrahim, who was born to Somali parents in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, has a keen eye for detecting new talent. She often discovers artists on Instagram; some she finds on her travels. One aspect of Chicago that Ibrahim particularly appreciates is the new network of collectors. “The Black collectors have emerged, and they are changing the game,” she says. “They have a legitimacy in hanging the work in their homes. Blackness is not just a color—it’s a history and a lifestyle. The Black collectors from all over the world want to have a piece of the pie. Not to be at the very end, but early on, when the artist is about to make it out there to the public.”