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  • Writer's pictureArtists in Rise


Updated: Nov 9, 2022

Black Rock Senegal is an artist residency founded by artist, Kehinde Wiley. Wiley is perhaps one of the most well known contemporary artists of today. He is prominently placed within the vernacular of historical portraiture as he represents contemporary African-American and African-Diasporic men and women posed powerfully in a way that references western portraiture. After Wiley received his MFA from Yale university 2001, he was an artist in residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem which propelled his work toward numerous awards and solo museum exhibitions.

Barack Hussein Obama, 2018. Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley is perhaps most widely recognized for his portrait of Barack Obama, which he was commissioned to paint in 2018. In 2019, Wiley founded Black Rock:

“Black Rock Senegal came out of a direct need to engage Africa in a much more personal way. I discovered Dakar on a layover in 1997, back when Air Afrique was the sole provider of flights from the west to Nigeria. It was my first visit to Africa and I was immediately enraptured by Senegalese language, food, art, culture, and tradition. After years of exploring the continent’s many cultures and countries I had a personal desire to create a workspace in West Africa. As an Artist who works in the west I desired a space of renewal to explore new ideas and to create work outside of a western context—to create work within the context of my own lineage. Black Rock stands as the direct answer to my desire to have an uncontested relationship with Africa, the filling in of a large void that I share with many African Americans.”

Kehinde Wiley at the Black Rock. Image by Jane Hahn for The New York Times.

The Black Rock compound design was conceived by Senegalese architect Abib Djenne with interior collaboration between Wiley, Fatiya Djenne, and Aissa Dione. The complex includes a residence and studio space for Wiley along with three single-occupancy residency apartments with adjacent studio space.


“Our mission is to support new artistic creation through collaborative exchange and to incite change in the global discourse about what Africa means today.”


Black Rock provides residents with a local staff to assist in navigating Dakar and a language tutor to assist with English, French, and Wolof –the three primary languages of the program. Residents will additionally be offered a modest stipend for incidentals and additional art supplies.

Black Rock provides funding for travel within Senegal organized through the residency program and for individually-organized travel on a case-by-case basis. While Black Rock does not provide funding for travel to and from Senegal, we are happy to assist in securing third-party funding opportunities and travel grants.

Residents must be over 18 years old. Residents must have a valid passport for international travel if they currently reside outside of Senegal.

Applications for this year is currently closed but be sure to check there website for the 2023 cycle.


We recommend looking at the full list, but here are a few alumni we follow:


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