In our ‘Black Artist To Watch’ series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

Black Artist To Watch: Mafalda Vasconcelos was born in South Africa but grew up in Mozambique. Mafalda’s work is inspired by the symbolism and spiritualism of her Mozambican culture. Her process is about spiritual self-discovery, identity, cultural exploration but also about love and admiration for ancestry and womanhood. Her art is not just a spiritual quest but also a way of exploring emotions and how they relate to identity.

Read more about the inspirations behind his work below

Tell us about the first moment you knew you wanted to be an artist? How would you describe yourself as an artist?Mafalda Vasconcelos

I have never wanted to be an artist per se, I have always been creative and wanted to pursue a creative career through which I could make things with my hands. I never thought that art was a possibility, but I am grateful that I have become an artist. Art to me is not just a spiritual quest but also a way of exploring emotions and how they relate to the subconscious.

You were born in South Africa, grew up in Mozambique before moving to Australia. How do you incorporate Africa to your art and how does Africa inspire your work?

I grew up surrounded by Mozambican women and African art, in Mozambique. My mother and her family are from the Nharinga ethnic group from the north of Mozambique. This was a very small ethnic group and due to assimilation, most of their culture was lost and not documented. I create work that is inspired by these women but also as a way to connect to our culture and my ancestors. Ancestral heritage is a very important aspect of most African cultures, including my own, which I try to honour by creating portraits based on spirits and energy rather than real human figures.

In addition, I draw or paint female figures as a reference to the Divine feminine that the black women in my life represent. Africa, the continent is also a feminine and nurturing figure and my work always depicts her in an allegorical way. She represents me and my ancestors.


Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created?

Nolwandle is my favourite, I kept her to myself. I also love the new mini paintings I have been creating based on the concept of duality.

How has the current pandemic affected you as a creator?

The current pandemic has provided me with an opportunity to really look within and reflect on my creative process and focus on my art. It has allowed me to explore and experiment with themes and techniques that I wouldn’t otherwise have tried. We are currently in a very strict lockdown in Melbourne and basically all I can do is create from my home studio, which I am very fortunate to have. Making art has become a spiritual practice that keeps me sane and motivated.

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What is one creative resource you can’t live without?

Books. The most important part of my process is visual research, I use books as a source of inspiration and guide. I can’t imagine creating without that important part of the creative process. The books that inspire me the most are books about African art and African spirituality.

Art can change one’s perspective on the world. Are there certain ideas that your works try to introduce, suggest, or communicate to the viewer?

My work is about spiritual self-discovery, cultural exploration but also about love and admiration for ancestry and womanhood. I hope that the viewer is drawn to the imagery I create but most importantly, I hope that they feel the love that I try to pour into the canvas. The interpretation of art by the viewer is personal and relates to each one of our experiences, which I find interesting. The work I create is not so much about thought but about human emotion and as long as the viewer is feeling something when looking at my portraits, I am happy.

if you could sit down and have a meal with one artist/designer/musician in the world, Who would it be and why?

I would absolutely love to sit down with Dr. Maya Angelou. I have so many spiritual questions that I want to ask her. Other than that, I would just love to sit with ordinary people like my great grandmother Faneta. I would ask her about her life, which I find so interesting, more so than any artist or musician.


What is the best gallery or museum for art lovers in Australia?

NGV in Melbourne or Mona in Hobart are in my opinion, the best ones to visit.

What are you reading or watching at the moment?

I am reading Divine Inspiration by Phyllis Galembo and Robert Farris Thompson.

Do you consider a country’s art galleries when you select your travel destinations? If you could take an artistic tour across one country in the world, where would you go?

I am more interested in culture and people than in art galleries. I find that most art galleries are not often representative of the culture within a country or even the people. But I do try to visit art galleries wherever I go.

If I could do an artistic tour of a country, it would be Mozambique. I would visit every little town from Rovuma to Maputo, learning more about my country and the cultures within the ethnic groups of Mozambique. I was back there in January and visited a few places which I hadn’t been even though I lived in Mozambique for 20 years. I learnt so much about myself, my story and my people and it was life changing. I think those are much more enriching experiences for me as they relate more to my theme of work.

Visit her website to learn more about her and her work



Stevee-Rayne Warren is Producer Manager, Community crew up program, NOVAC recruiter and Consultant. She pairs up capable PA’s with real Hollywood opportunities.


Tell us about you and your background.
– I was born and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and attended Southern University and A&M College where I majored in English and Liberal Arts. My mom was a cosmetologist and I would spend afternoons and weekends in her salon watching tv and movies to occupy myself and to not be in grown folks business. I recall always waiting for the credits and watching behind the scenes. I also would tag along to hair shows in the southeast region and that in itself was an entire production. I knew I wanted to have something to do with film and television I just did not know what my options were or even what the first steps were. It wasn’t until high school and after taking a video production elective that I started to see working in film as a reality. Our teacher Mr.Kyle really pushed us and exposed us to various aspects of productions. We made two feature length films that premiered at one of the AMC’s and actually gained some local and youtube buzz. I loved the collaborative process and being apart of something that brought joy to so many people.

Tell us about your profession and how you got into your line of work.
– While in college I worked at a restaurant and for the Bureau of Community Preparedness part-time, which I genuinely enjoyed but did not feel completely fulfilled. So, I applied for a security position at the local film studio in Baton Rouge. I didn’t get the position but the receptionist told me to look into an organization called NOVAC if I wanted to get some production experience. I did some research and saw that NOVAC had a tone of resources for individuals interested in film and tv. I signed up for the free cinematography workshop. Shortly after the workshop I reached out to the NOVAC Baton Rouge program manager Jillian Godshall to inquire about internship opportunities and a week later I was interviewed and hired. The opportunity was paid so I left my state job and took a leave from my restaurant job and worked the organization’s membership system. I was later promoted to membership coordinator.
Following my roles with membership, I started to help out with workforce development every chance I got and in 2017 I was assigned to manage our partnership program with HBO and a month later we garnered an additional partnership (PA pipelining program) with Warner Bros. The thing I love the most about working for the state was the community outreach and connecting the right people with the right situation and with these programs I get to do that but in a field that I am passionate about.

What professional accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction ?
– This year has been a big one for alum of the various programs I manage. We advocate that these opportunities will lead to sustainable careers in the industry but I did not expect to see such tangible impact so soon. There are a number of people in the union or on the union track, working director’s assistants, location managers, costumers, script supervisors, associate producers, staff writers that all came from these programs in the last 3 years. I’m proud of that, I’m proud of them.

What does it mean for you to have a commitment to Equality/Diversity ?
How have you demonstrated that commitment ?
– Having a true commitment to equality/diversity means actively recruiting storytellers and crew from different backgrounds through every stage. Not looking for black and brown faces at the very last minute for the bottom line. Another thing we tend to abandon is the environment that we place people in…Yes, it may be a chance of a lifetime to work on a big budget production but what does this “dream job” come at the expense of? Is it their comfort? Their peace of mind? If so, it’s not the right opportunity and it’s not worth it. When I started out I use to think the chance was enough. It is not. We also have to ensure that all involved are truly invested and supportive of facilitating more inclusive hiring processes.

Tell us how you work with brands to create or foster equity in the workplace ?
– Because I am a consultant through a non-profit and work under the social responsibility umbrella, I work with other non-profits and productions rather than brands. One thing I do love with working Warner Media (HBO, Warner. Bros, Turner) productions is the privilege to engage with a number of nonprofit groups and community based organizations around numerous social issues – many of which are addressed naturally in the content. For instance, the series BARRY is centered around a veteran, so I recruit exclusively from organizations that serve veterans for that show. That is one of my favorite things about this work, making authentic connections.

How would you advocate for equality and inclusion initiatives with individuals who don’t see its value ?
– I am really not in the business of changing people’s hearts. Because the people who are admitly against the type of pipelining programs I manage are usually those who have greatly benefited from the system that so often excludes the people that we serve. I am more focused on bridging the gap and setting the tone for the emerging creatives and industry leaders. One thing I do emphasize is that things are not the way they are by chance, it was intentionally set up to not be accessible to all, so our efforts for change have to be done with intention and care.

What experiences have you had with recruiting, hiring, training, and/or supervising a diverse workforce ?

As more women of color enter and strive in the workplace, how will that affect the future of diversity and inclusion ?

Women hire more women, Black people, and people of color. Point, blank, period.

Any advice or tips for women trying to get into your line of work ?
– For women, specifically black women, a tip that I can offer about working in this industry, is that, it is possible to simultaneously be grateful and to stand up for yourself. I think a lot of us retract in these spaces because we are in fear of conforming to stereotypes or we are in fear of losing the opportunity. But it is so important to know who you are and advocate for yourself in this world because you better believe your counterparts are doing so.
Be sure that you are focused and attached to your personal purpose and walk and not a company, brand, or other individuals. I ask myself often, “what is the goal? why did I start this? Is what I am doing in fulfilment of my purpose?.” If so, I keep pushing. If not, I stop evaluate and readjust.

Whenever I am unsure or not feeling confident, I always think about a quote by Audre Lorde, “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” I have this up in my house and office and these are truly words to live by.

What do you see as the greatest leadership strength ?

– I believe the greatest leadership strengths are empathy, emotional intelligence, and empowerment. The best leaders are those who are understanding and supportive.





#InspiredByHer is an interview series that focuses on black women, showcases their expériences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and Professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.

Do you know any black women doing phenomenal things ? Send an email to info@moyoafrika.com and we just might feature her.