Artwork by Jessi Jumanji


Faces of the African diaspora reunite with ‘Distant Relatives’ in this dope photo series

May 9, 2018
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Jessi Jumanji does it yet again! The mixed media, L.A.-based artist ancestral-themed “Distant Relatives: Familiar Faces” series pairs up famous faces of the diaspora with their historic and ancestral visual counterparts. A spiritual reunion of sorts between genetic similarities passed down through generations and millennia. Stumbling upon some truly remarkable surprises and similarities between black creatives and our ancestors, “Distant Relatives: Familiar Faces” is an awe-inspiring visual treat.

“The “Distant Relatives: Familiar Faces” series is an exploration that I started few years ago when I first began to research my family history,” Jumanji tells AFROPUNK. “I discovered some old family photographs after my grandfather died, and I was blown away by the striking similarities in appearance that have manifested through the generations. I matched an old picture of my great great grandmother with a recent picture of my aunt and it was spot on. It gave me a newfound sense of pride and identity. I realize that for many black people in America, knowledge of self is a missing link because of the negative effects of colonization and slavery that have systematically stripped us of a sense of historical significance and belonging. My studies in African history began to overlap with my interest pop culture when I noticed that some of the photographs I’ve collected over the years resembled many of the black superstars we are fans of. I wanted our culture to be celebrated in the same way. We should be fans of our ancestors. I decided to create matchups of celebrities with their native African counterparts to show just how closely we are connected to our African roots, whether we realize it or not.”

See more of Jessi Jumanji’s work on Instagram.

1869 vs 2018
Afro-Brazilian woman vs. Tracy Morgan

1889 vs 1981
Dakar, Senegal Native vs Rick James

1903 vs. 2015
Algerian Kabyle woman vs Kyla Pratt

1915 vs 2018
Cameroonian woman vs. actress Danielle Brooks aka “Taystee” from Orange is the New Black

1904 vs 2014
Senegalese man vs Daniel Kaluuya

1907 vs 2017
Andassa boy of French Congo vs Kodak Black

1918 vs 2012
Afro-Latino Brujo vs Dr. Sebi