Lewinale Havette is on a mission to highlight the important role of a multiculturalist society and the story of African Eve through the eyes of her paintings.
Born in Liberia during the heat of the country’s civil crisis and later migrating to the US, Lewinale’s figurative paintings come with a deep underlying message meant to create awareness about multiculturalism and the theory and scientific discovery of African Eve.
Her work as an artist explores two things which are dear to her heart: The Genealogy of humans, particularly from an African feminist perspective, and discrimination.
“I became an artist after the realization that came when I could no longer hold my message within me. She needed to be born. The fire that came with needing to tell the story of us became overbearing and I decided to make art my full-time career, and never look back,” she said.
Since then, Lewinale, who made her breakthrough last year at the contemporary Venice group show in Italy, has been steadily gaining recognition in the art world for her series of works, including Immortals and Honor Your Mother, respectively.
She added: “I use the Kente Cloth, which is the cloth on the female body, in the Immortals collection, to pay homage to the woman as the originator of humanity, a common theme in my work. ”
In Honor Your Mother, a story which addresses the history of an African Eve, Lewinale portrays one of her figures as a woman lying down with her back bent slightly upward toward the sky as a light descends upon her while her hands remain opened. The light, red and black colors surrounding her, the African Eve, pictures the beginning of humanity.
This painting by Lewinale, which is a masterpiece, she said is intended to remind humankind of their beginnings, their African roots, which they need to honor and embrace.
“I depict our African Eve because due to colonization and forced division and chaos on indigenous peoples, our African mother’s gifts have been mocked, stolen, and raped. I feel compelled to share our mother’s story so that we may honor the roots of our diversity, recognize humanity’s misguided actions against our mother, and celebrate our commonalities.
“My mission is to remind humanity that we all came from one root regardless of being divided by ethnicity, and other fictitious labels. Our mother and her older children have left gifts; knowledge, traditions, and magic that should be celebrated, not hidden. They shall be proclaimed and are not to be twisted. Honor and not mock our gifts such as medicine, agriculture, art, and civilization and natural resources to slake our needs and wants. Yet, our divide will only keep us from our true potential,” says Lewinale.
The tall, dark-skinned artist uses art as a constant reminder to humanity of their misguided actions against themselves—and also to celebrate humankind’s progression and evolution.
“These actions include the transatlantic slave trade, misuse of Africa’s natural resources through intentional division, colonization and war,” she said, adding: “All of these are the progeny of hubris, ego, nationalism, and the thirst for godlike dominance.”
As a Liberian artist married to someone of a different skin color and cultural background, Lewinale’s identity compels her to tell the narrative of two completely different worlds that have decided to become one.
Such a world is a respect for multiculturalism—a society where individuals will not be judged by their skin color. Her multiculturalism paintings provide a discourse of our ever-evolving society and the current paradigm shift.
“My multiculturalism painting often uses intimate pieces, depicting moments with people in cross-cultural relationships and the beauty which can be manifested,” she said. “And that no matter one race, all human beings are more common than different.”
Remarkably, Lewinale’s artworks are mostly based on her real-life experiences as well as the overall human experience. Each character of artwork is all versions of her life—self-evidently autobiographical—but also historical documentation of people who have lived before her and those that are creating a new human face.
Giants in the word of fine art like Omar Victor, Michelangelo, Kehinde Wiley, Peju Alatise, Wangechi Mutu, and many others have all inspired Lewinale’s works and she has been encouraged to extend herself and dig deeper.
“When people you admire recognize that your work is powerful, you feel as though the steps you’ve taken were not for naught. It feels as though being an artist enables you to develop a 6th sense. I am now more in touch with my spirituality than I have ever been.”
But Lewinale’s sudden rise to global stardom did not come easy. As a child growing up, she has had to experience the horrors of the Liberian civil war and discrimination. She was ostracized when she moved to the US because of her difference and culture.
Lewinale has also exhibited works at the Africa Belle, Alliance Française d’Atlanta, the Immortals Collection at five churches, the body language group show, room art gallery and the UNICEF next generations’ art show respectively of Atlanta, Georgia and Venice, Italy.
“It was not easy living in these countries as a foreigner. Too many things happened but there was a lesson learned, a lesson that shapes my paintings,” she said.