Tacky hotel art is a thing of the past—take our word for it. But of the many examples of temporary homes upping their décor, one is at the top of our list this week: Artist Delphine Diallo’s ethereal exhibit of photography and collages are on display just below Central Park at the Quin Hotel in New York City’s fast-paced Midtown neighborhood. Throughout the multimedia experience, Diallo conjures her conceptualization of Africa, a subject close to the Senegalese-French artist’s heart. Diallo’s installation, curated by DK Johnston and Nicole Ianniello, is titled Flora, Fauna, and Forms and explores still life female portraiture in conjunction with mixed media collages in order to demonstrate the artist’s connection to and appreciation for strong women. The images are equal parts beautiful and haunting—a manifestation of unedited creativity. We sat down for a Q+A with the Brooklyn-based artist in honor of the display, where we discussed everything under the sun—from her mentorship under the legendary Peter Beard to why she left Paris for New York City.
What is it like to see your art up at The Quin where both New Yorkers and visitors from around the world can appreciate them?
I feel grateful to have the opportunity to show my work in such a beautiful place. I want my artwork to connect with people from all around the world. It expresses an urge for sharing, understanding, and beauty.
There has always been activism in art—have you noticed an increase in recent years?
There is definitely more concern about how the work is related to the social and political aspects of our lives after the last presidential election. People are hungry for meanings, something that can connect them to (them) beyond just the beauty of the artwork. It is a great time in history. A conscious evolution of our mind takes place in synchronicity.
Walk me through your creative process. What's your favorite part when creating a piece?
I love putting the stories of my collage together in a very organic way. It’s a mix of intuition, focus, and letting the present moment guide me to the unknown places of your creative mind.
You studied in Paris and then moved to New York, what was that transition like?
I felt limited in Paris ... I could never be an artist because there is not really an underground art scene that can support the growth. France was challenging in many ways and I can’t say that I ever truly felt French. As a person of African descent, one has to face many hard realities and limited economic and social opportunities. New York has this tremendous energy of possibilities and opportunities. Inclusiveness is the best result of a society that prioritizes diversity and that’s why NY is so special to me.
Which do you like more?
New York for sure. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world but with less awareness. The fact that People in NY come from all around the world make the city the most special one when it comes to understanding and accepting different cultures.
What was it like getting to work with Peter Beard?
Peter Beard is my mentor, the man who pushed me to fully express myself 100% with no concession. He opened the door to my journey as a photographer and visual artist. We share a passion for understanding the world around us, although his photography was more focused on wildlife. He had met an amazing woman who mentored him and introduced him to Africa and he, in turn, mentored me. His path was to detail the transcendence of beauty and sexuality into nature, that was his understanding and I was not really in agreement so we had many strong debates about it. He liked to hear my story and I had to tell him that my perspective of Africa was very different. Although we disagreed he was very good at understanding.
What are some new mediums you plan on experimenting with/have experimented with?
I worked with 3D printing on a series with masks but would love to extend the experience to collage sculpture (photography, copper, wood, marble). There are so many possibilities to tell stories.
As an artist, what do you feel is your biggest priority?
I’m excited for the future because the world is changing faster than ever before and opportunities to collaborate will be extended to real experience outside of the gallery and opening. I imagine a new landscape in a natural environment where you will be able to create and host a transformative journey for people. I’m interested in developing my creative practice outside the studio, inviting other creatives to collaborate and share our knowledge to heal the world.
'Flora, Fauna, and Forms' is on display now at The Quin Hotel in New York City