On February 25, 2023 at 26 Bridge in Brooklyn, NY, Amref Health Africa will host their annual ArtBall event and adjoining art auction, creating a connection between African culture and philanthropy to celebrate and highlight the talent of the African continent. This year Amref Health Africa will honor world-renowned Ethiopian artist Julie Mehretu with the Rees Visionary Award.
ArtBall features a Contemporary African, Pan-African, and Black art auction, entertainment, food and beverages from award-winning Black-owned vendors, an installation, and an award ceremony, and has grown from just over 300 attendees to nearly 800, with an emphasis on the African diaspora. Notable hosts and guests have included Solange, Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys, Chris Rock, Antwaun Sargent, Kimberly Drew, Hank Willis Thomas, Isolde Brielmaier, Shantell Martin, Nina Chanel Abney, Jack Shainman, Young Paris, and many more.
The auction will consist of around 30 pieces of Contemporary African, Pan-African and Black Art from emerging and established artists. The ArtBall auction will run via Artsy: Feb 13-27, 2023. The proceeds of the auction will benefit Kefeta. Past auction artists have included Wangechi Mutu, Amoako Boako, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Awol Erizku, and more.
Below is an interview with Emily Correale, Director, Development and Communications, at Amref Health Africa in the USA.
Could you please provide us with an overview of your organization (Amref Health Africa)?
Amref Health Africa (Amref) is the largest Africa-based nonprofit in the world. We run healthcare programs across 35 countries, and last year reached over 20 million people. Our headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya and 97% of our global staff are African. Our mission is to transform African healthcare from within. We have been on the ground since 1957 – over 65 years!
When did you get involved with the art world? What was your first initiative? Why art specifically?
We have a maternal and child health program in Iten, Kenya. Iten is home to the High-Altitude Training Centre where some of the greatest runners in the world come to train. One day in 2015, my boss and I were discussing how many of these runners are Kenyan, or from across Africa, and about the sheer amount of talent in general that comes out of the continent. From there, the conversation evolved into talking about the emergence of contemporary African art as something that was on the rise. Next thing you know, the idea of the ArtBall fundraising event and art auction was created!
Walk us through the auction coming up this February with artsy. Could you please share with us some notable artists?
The auction can be found at artsy.net/amref-artball – it currently has a countdown until the big launch on February 13th at 12:00pm EST. Some of the artists were really excited about this year include Adjei Tawiah, Nola Ayoola, Emily Manwaring, and Justice Mukheli, though they are all amazing. The auction will run for two weeks, and will be on display at ArtBall on February 25th in Brooklyn, NY.
Who is the curator for the auction? Is there a specific theme? What is the selection process?
We work with an amazing group of curators to acquire the art. This years’ curators include Cierra Britton (Cierra Britton Gallery), Natalie Kates (Kates-Ferri Projects), Nadia Nascimento (ARTNOIR), and Fhatuwani Mukheli (I See A Different You, and Artist). The theme is ‘Black futures’.
ArtBall is your main fundraiser of the year. Share with our readers what it’s all about and how they can attend.
We are returning on February 25, 2023 after a couple years off due to COVID-19. We can’t wait to get back on the dancefloor and celebrate all things Amref, Africa, and Black and African art! This year the event will include an interactive installation featuring one of our programs in Ethiopia called Kefeta, which is all about empowering youth and reimaging their futures. It will also include an award ceremony where artist Julie Mehretu will be honored with the Rees Visionary Award, an art installation with the art that is up for auction, West and East African food, an open bar that includes Ethiopian beer, and a special performance by Chop and Quench aka The Fela! Band… with more to come! Visit amrefusa.org/artball to get your tickets before they sell out!
Why did you decide to honor Julie Mehretu this year?
We selected Julie Mehretu based on how, as an artist, she examines how our current lived experiences impact our futures – exactly in alignment with Kefeta. Of course, it is also a bonus that she is from Ethiopia.
Are there other art initiatives coming up this year that you would like to share?
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