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ABOUT

Heroines and protagonists. Originally created for the United Nations in 2015, Be’s Empowering Women series highlights the strength and tenacity of women in Senegal through personal stories of perseverance, pride, and power. Each woman chose how to present herself and shared her experiences, often overcoming great obstacles as she pursued dreams in a male-dominated world with little recognition and despite all odds. Their detailed stories provide a history from the ground up—from the perspective and reality of daily life.

Now On View in the Main Gallery

April 9, 2021 – February 13, 2022

ARTIST BIO

Alun Be is an artist and architect who strives to portray African modernity. Born Alioune Ba in 1981 in Dakar, Senegal, Be credits the development of his oeuvre largely to his French, American, and West African upbringing. Be’s parents did not believe art was a stable career, pushing him to pursue an M.A. in Architecture. After two years as an architect in Senegal, a move to Denmark sparked his love for photography. Since then, Be has exhibited at the Milan Universal Exposition (2015), the Dakar Biennale (2018), the Museum of Contemporary Photography of Chicago (2018), and others, and spoken at TEDxNapoli and TEDxWanChaiSalon. His photography series deal largely with intergenerationality, female empowerment, and technology.

Exhibition

Madame Sarr, from the Empowering Women series

Madame Amy Sarr Ndao of Kaolack, central Senegal is a woman of innovation. She is known for developing West Africa’s most protein-rich grain-based nutritional flour, sourced from local ingredients. Because of her success, she is recognized as a great role model for her community—a responsibility that she takes to heart. Instead of focusing solely on her own fulfillment, Madame Ndao uses her position to mentor other women who seek better self-determination.

2015
Photo mural
Courtesy of the artist

Madame Bitèye, from the Empowering Women series

Madame Ami Bitèye is a successful grain entrepreneur in Koalack, central Senegal. She additionally plays a significant role as “Badienou Gokh”: godmother of her neighborhood. Such a status acknowledges her ability to resolve difficult situations and recognizes the financial and health support she selflessly provides to her community—especially women.

2015
Photo mural
Courtesy of the artist

alun be madame biteye

Madame Kane, from the Empowering Women series

From Yembel, a suburb of Dakar, Madame Fatma Kane is a longtime activist and schoolteacher instrumental in breaking the “supporting role” logic of women in politics. She accomplishes this by training women to generate their own income and to themselves become local elected officials as a way to amplify the voices and concerns of women. Today many of the women she has mentored have gone on to successful careers in government.

2015
Photo mural
Courtesy of the artist

Madame Badiane, from the Empowering Women series

Featured here is Madame Viviane Badiane from Nioro du Rip in central Senegal. Madame Badiane represents and advocates for 150 organic female farmers of bissap (a local plant used to make sweet drinks and tea) to ensure that they obtain their international organic certification and that they maintain ownership and control of their land. As she states, “the fields they cultivate can no longer be owned by men alone.”

2015
Photo mural
Courtesy of the artist

Madame Deme, from the Empowering Women series

In 2014 at the young age of 35, Aïssatou Deme led eighty rural women to cultivate land that was believed to be too infertile because of over-salinization. From a rural area of central Senegal (Guinguinéo) herself, she is now a graduate in management science, and builds off of this ground-breaking work daily. Her work reminds us that it’s not where you’re from that matters, but what you make of your history and how you help those around you.

2015
Photo mural
Courtesy of the artist

Madame Ndaw, from the Empowering Women series

Madame Maïmouna Ndaw of Kaolack in central Senegal is the head of a mutual insurance company with more than 5,000 members—a company that is significantly managed by women, for women. With forty years of experience in development and twenty-five years in microfinance, her expertise in credit and savings provides a wealth of knowledge and insight to the staff and members of her company. Madame Ndaw’s careful guidance trains women to save more and to differentiate and strengthen both their personal finances and their business budgets. Most significantly, however, she teaches them to gain autonomy and financial stability.

2015
Photo mural
Courtesy of the artist