Delphine Diallo is a Brooklyn-based French and Senegalese visual artist and photographer. Born into a French-Senegalese creative family, Delphine Diallo’s first expressions of artistry were in music, graphic design, and artistic direction. She graduated from the Académie Charpentier School of Visual Art in Paris in 1999 before working in the music industry for seven years as a unique effect motion artist, video editor, and graphic designer.
In 2008, she moved to New York to explore her practice after giving up a corporate Art Director role in Paris. Diallo was mentored by acclaimed photographer and artist Peter Beard, impressed by her creativity and spontaneity, before collaborating for the Pirelli calendar photoshoot in Botswana. Inspired by new environments on this trip, she returned to her father’s home city of Saint-Louis in Senegal to start her vision quest. Seeking to challenge the norms of our society, Diallo immerses herself in the realms of anthropology, mythology, religion, science, and martial arts to release her mind. Her work takes her to remote outlying areas, as she insists on spending intimate time with her subjects to represent better their most natural energy.
“I treat my process as if it were an adventure liberating a new protagonist.”
Since 2014, Diallo has been creating a visual language that would empower herself and the women who would become her protagonists and heroines. Diallo started by portraying friends and family members and turned them into goddesses—a way to honor what she names the “divine female body.” Her vision and mission for what these women are and should be would then take form thanks to body paint, jewelry, and various attires. Aware of the responsibility of representing others, Diallo is centering ethics in her practice, creating long-term relationships and collaborations with her sitters. Throughout the years, Diallo developed a photographic expression that plays with spiritual symbols evoking mythology and giving black women their rightful place in the pantheon. Her work aspires to elevate her subjects by creating new legends. In that respect, Diallo challenges and redefines the historical genre of portraiture.
An observer of photography’s traditional gaze on women’s bodies, Diallo made it her mission to become a key actor in deconstructing its sexist and racist legacy. Diallo’s powerful portraitures unmask and stir an uninhibited insight that allows her audience to see beyond the facade. “We are in constant search for wonder and growth. I see art as a vessel to express consciousness and access to diffuse wisdom, enlightenment, fear, beauty, horror, mystery, faith, strength, fearless, universal matter.”
Diallo combines artistry with activism wherever she can, pushing the many possibilities of empowering women, youth, and cultural minorities through visual provocation. Diallo uses analog and digital photography, collage and illustration, 3D printing, and virtual reality technologies as she continues to explore new mediums. She is working towards creating new dimensions and a place where consciousness and art serve as a universal language by connecting artists and sharing ideas and learning.
“I believe all humans, regardless of racial and geographic differences, share the same collective pool of instincts and images, though these manifest differently due to the molding influence of culture. The time has come to go beyond the individual mind and relate our standard universal connection. We must collaborate, support, inspire, teach, and learn together.”