She Beckons Me Home, Ni-Oti

Featured Artist : The 2015 Artist of the Year is Nii Oti whose vibrant work graces the cover of all this year’s African Festival of the Arts materials.  For over 40 years, Nii Oti was a gifted artist who specialized in combining African and African-American art through his paintings and customized jewelry.

 In spite of his commercial success, Nii Oti felt a strong desire to live in the Motherland. In the mid-70s, he packed up his family and moved to Ghana. There, he taught art and studied with many renowned artists in Ghana, Nigeria and throughout the Ivory Coast. It was also in Ghana where he was given his name, which roughly translated means “chief.”

Over the decades, Nii Oti has accumulated a body of work that reflects his transition from a child of the South Side of Chicago to a world-renowned master of African/African- American art. 

Annually during Labor Day Weekend, the Festival grounds in Chicago’s Washington Park come alive in a simulated African village. Attendees are transported across the Diaspora with interactive demonstrations, vibrant drumming, historical artifacts, colorful and rich fabrics, informative health and wellness workshops, as well as fascinating entertainment.

The “Dee Parmer Woodtor Main Stage” (named for the founder’s late wife), has featured explosive performances by legendary entertainers such as James Brown, Hugh Masekela, Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Erykah Badu, Angelique Kidjo, Bobby Womack, Gil Scott Heron, Nona Hendryx, Dwele, Goapele, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Slave, Les McCann, Rachelle Ferrell, Kool and the Gang, The Brothers Johnson, and Kindred the Family Soul to name a few.

AFA also boasts a food court rich in delectable and authentic African-cuisine. Experience exotic fare from the diverse cultures of Africa including Egusi from Nigeria; Wolof rice from Senegal; Jerk chicken, goat-meat and fish from the Caribbean; and other spicy, appetizing dishes from across the African Diaspora. And don’t miss out on the distinct Cajun and Soul foods from the different corners of the world.

A preeminent highlight of the Festival is its all-encompassing Fine Arts Pavilion showcasing collectible photography and fine art including original oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastels, charcoal, graphite, and works of limited editions, as well as sculptures in metal, wood, and mixed media. The best artists and works of wearable art and jewelry are also featured in the Fine Arts Pavilion. Notable contemporary visual artists, craft-makers and independent art gallery owners credit the Festival with launching and fortifying their careers.

Importantly, the fine art program continues to educate collectors and beginning collectors on art in general. Marvin Sin is this year’s featured artist whose work is showcased on all 2012 Festival materials. Marvin Sin will be joined in the Pavilion by Uwa Hunwick, Woodrow Nash, Frank Frazier, Melvin King, Rondell, Stacy Brown, Nii-Oti, Dimali, Isodor Howard and Dayo Laoye, who also serves as the pavilion coordinator.

Festival goers also experience the Book Pavilion where best-selling and emerging authors share their cultural interpretations and the legacy of storytelling in the Griot tradition.

All this and more await you at the African Festival of the Arts. Visit or website for more information including ticket prices, vendor applications and pavilion highlights.

Information is updated frequently and is subject to change.

Thank you for being a part of the African Festival of the Arts family! We can’t wait to see you this Labor Day weekend,Washington Park- 5110 S. Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL.