Awanle Ayiboro Hawa Ali - EMERGEAST
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Awanle Ayiboro Hawa Ali
b. 1997, Ghana

“Whenever I paint, I feel like a bird, free as a bird. I just forget my worries and glide through, with each brushstroke.”

Awanle Ayiboro Hawa Ali (Ghanaian, b. 1997) is a visual artist whose work is inspired by African women's experiences in patriarchal societies. As the first female child of her nuclear family, she had always been subjected to false societal expectations and pressure when it came to ‘settling down' and having children. Awanle, on the other hand, as a young lady who does not believe in the institution of marriage and its limitations on a woman's worth, paints in order to reject the expectations placed on women like her. She aspires to become a world-renowned artist who will be remembered for generations.

She has always been interested in the visual arts but has been unable to develop her skills due to her parents' lack of enthusiasm, who encouraged her to pursue a career in General Arts. However, a series of unintentional encounters with the visual arts community and artist mentors prompted her to rebel and decide to pursue a career as an artist, defying expectations that were never hers, to begin with.

Hawa is adamant about capturing these experiences in her paintings and, as a result, inspiring many women to break free from society's constraints. She currently works in an Accra art studio, where she spends her time researching, experimenting, and painting.

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Artist Statement


For the past three years, I've been constantly studying areas of life that are frequently concealed or misunderstood in our culture. I dig into the lives of regular traditional Muslim women in Ghana and throughout the world who get lost in their thoughts, dreaming of a day when they are not seen as incapable of achieving their objectives and aspirations. I capture the spirit of the dreamer, of the woman who refuses to be held back by excessive aspirations, of the woman who tries to break through the barrier. I concentrate on problems that society discusses but has little or no power over, such as patriarchal institutions in my own society. My artwork is influenced by my upbringing in a strict and conservative Muslim environment. My emotions are evoked, and sorrow and sadness are depicted in the images I paint. My choice of colors reflects my ambition to live beyond the limitations imposed on women.

I apply navy blue and numerous hues of blue on the skin of my subjects, indicating freedom from all limits, abuse, and the controlled lives of all women, just as the oceans and seas do. Blue also represents royalty in the northern Ghanaian society. 

In order to create my art, I use acrylic paints and items such as magazines. Multiple collages of powerful, inspirational women who continue to defy all obstacles to be successful in their respective industries are sometimes infused into my paintings. After finishing each piece of art, I say a small prayer, hoping to make a difference in society by assisting women like me who may be forced or brainwashed into early marriages, denied an education, let alone an education of their choosing, to break free from the shackles of societal and religious expectations. It is more important than ever for women to step forward and focus on leadership in their communities and beyond, and I hope to make a significant contribution.

Series Statement


With "Seek Beyond the Wall," the artist employs a variety of techniques, an innate undertaking that begins with a specific nostalgic color mood, from which the embryonic images and symbols emerge. In this body of work, she uses a range of media to transport the viewer into a world of deep thinking and introspection. Through this collection of work, she affirms the source of feminine power within herself, which pervades all she does as a woman, an artist, and everything she represents. "Seek Beyond the Wall" looks at and explores gender roles and how women are portrayed in pop culture.

As an artist, Awanle is a firm believer in the power of imagination and the significance of standing up for what is right, as evidenced by her work. This series of works defies all of the negative stereotypes about women and young girls that the strict Muslim culture has imposed on them. Women are still seen as beings who are solely capable of becoming homemakers and child-bearers in the community where she grew up. With her work, the artist hopes to shift that narrative.


Group exhibitions

2022 Birds of a Feather, Phillips x Artemartis, London, UK
2021 Ties That Bind Us, The Cowrie Culture, Accra, Ghana
2021 Emergeast Gallery – Dubai. UAE
2020 'Worlafest', Alliance Francaise, Accra, Ghana
2019 Zongo Art Project, Accra, Ghana
2019 Charlewote Art Festival, Accra, Ghana

Artist residency

2020 James Town Workshop, Accra, Ghana

Permanent collections

Private Collection, Ghana
Artemartis, Ghana


Barbara Siebenlist Palomar – Artist, Argentina
Kamal Larry – Artist, Ghana
Emmanuel Kwaku Yaro – Artist, Ghana


Artemartis, Accra, Ghana