The Art of Delphine Diallo, Part II: The Vision and The Gift

By: Cyndi Amaya

On Monday, we featured Part I of an interview with Brooklyn artist Delphine Diallo and her journey as an artist. Today we continue that interview and get an inclusive look at her latest project, "The Gift," an art book with pieces from her work which focus on the 'gift' of artistry. Check out Part II of her interview below, as well as a video describing her latest work.

Tell me about when you started working on your art after returning from Africa. 

So I made my way back to New York after traveling and I had to find a space in an artistic neighborhood where I could produce a lot of work. So from the beginning of 2009 to now, I've been producing a lot. So in these two years of work, I had to put together everything that I wanted people to know about what I had to say. And what I have to say is very powerful because it took me ten years to develop that message. Although a lot of my work is personal I have a lot to say also about life in general that isn't always so personal.

During that time I traveled to Montana and stayed with a tribe of Native Americans, the Crow Tribe Nation. I shot them in all aspects of their lives, in their tepees, during the big Pow in the summer and I read their history and from there I learned the concept of substance and consistency. The natives also taught me about "the vision," or having a vision or purpose for your life. They taught me that the vision is something that's inside of you, and although you are considered a "dreamer" you are also part of that dream because of the vision that you have. Once I understood that, I saw my purpose as an artist and I better understood what I wanted to say through my art.

I noticed most of your work is portraits. What is it about portraits that draw you so much?

Anyone can create an aesthetically-beautiful picture, but it's really through a portrait that you can see the soul of the subject-matter. To me photography is all about the subject-matter. You really have to know everything about what and who you are shooting so that you know how to shoot them correctly. For instance, I can look at an individual and see who they are and they can make me feel something but now I have to find a way to show other people that same feeling through the photograph. A portrait is also about seeing what's behind the beauty of the image, getting to the soul of it.

Tell me about your current work, "The Gift."

The Gift is my latest work, it is an art book that brings together pieces from my work, but most importantly it carries the message about the 'gift' of art and artistic vision. My goal was to create a new voice for the art of the 21st Century. It brings together a universal language of cultural expressions that addresses everything from traditions, new movements, and icons of our own era.

The art book also introduces "The Gift NY" which is a video project that features other artists living in New York City and how they express their 'gift' of art. Both projects not only celebrates art for what it is but looks to those who create it, their message, and what inspired them to create this art.

The Gift is currently a running campaign on and is looking for donations. Check out Delphine's video below of "The Gift." For more information about Delphine Diallo and her art, visit her website here.

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