Barbara Minishi was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya and discovered her passion for the visual arts after graduation from Daystar University Kenya with a BA Communication (Print Media and Advertising) degree in 2003.
Primarily self taught through exploration & experimentation, she recognized the immersive and transformative experience of power, access, intimacy, connection, belonging and value that photography gifted her as tool to engage with her self, the community and the world.
To date, her sixteen year career has been successful with its diverse selection of commissioned work in the fashion, editorial, commercial and private sector specializing in people, products and places.
Her personal projects have led to participation in group photography exhibitions in Nairobi with Alliance Francaise’s, Curving the Visual, a Women on Women photo exhibition, the Goethe Institut’s, Mwangalio Tofauti (Different Perspectives) and Circle Art Gallery, Frontiers of the Present.
She has been a fellow at the Salzburg Global Seminar, “Power in whose Palm? The Digital Democratization of Photography” and a recipient of a cultural residency with the Young Art Fund Amsterdam.
Her work from the series, Eyerus has been featured in the book Contact Zones by the Goethe Institut Kenya and she has also photographed a published lifestyle cookbook, Bamboo, in collaboration with Zen Garden, Kenya.
Barbara considers it priority to consistently explore and experiment with her visual perceptive skills, the shifting cultural norms, generational belief systems, and the internal and external landscapes within and around us.
In 2010, she underwent training with One Fine Day Films Africa and undertook the Film Production Design course.
Since then she has been Art Director in projects such Netflix season 1 series ‘Sense 8,’ feature film, ‘Nairobi Half Life’, ( in which she won Best Art Director at the Africa Magic Movie Awards 2014), short film, ‘All that Way for Love’, and ‘Diamonds’ music video for German soul star Y’akoto just to name a few. She also art directs all her photography and video work.
Featured by Al Jazeera in a documentary series highlighting New African Photography, she has been recognized as one of the talents of note in Africa. Barbara embraces the responsibility being and practicing as an artist in this current age dictates.
In her opinion, the importance of evolved authorship, self directed power and authentic freedom in creating and transmuting stories from/with/around the perspective of the black female gaze are much needed.
Barbara agrees that the “personal is socio-political” and she intends that the work she co-creates leaves a lasting connective, educative and explorative touch point legacy. For example, the Red Dress photography project used a singular symbolic object (a red dress) to engage Kenyan women on themes of self conceptualization, personal socio-political power and visibility.
In addition, she has co-led and mentored a worskshop at Design Week Adis Ababa, Ethiopia on Fashion Photography and participated as a panel member for the 2018 World Intellectual Property day commemoration in Nairobi themed; ‘Powering Change, Women in Innovation and Creativity’
Continually inspired by the process of the spiral journey, inner and outer alchemy (embodied psyche transformation) and the arcane( surrealistic symbolic experiences), she is currently in the pre production process of creating an anthology of transformational visual stories that explores and expresses these themes.
There was always a pull I had regarding the desire to submit to the experience of creating images. Dreams, stories, liminal spaces and fragments of everyday moments possessed mystical, intuitive elements that guide and continue to fascinate me.
Self taught through experimentation and exploration, Photography was playground of connecting to and wielding my own creative magic.
Making images invited the camera to be my powerful ally, my connective tool to access the world. It was the authentic voice in which i engaged, explored, deconstructed and rewrote inscriptions of identity, authority, belonging.
My art making assists in the reclamation, recreation and reflection of the shifting multi-layered story lines of life and relationships.
Projects such as The Red Dress used a singular symbolic object to engage with Kenyan women on themes of self conceptualization, personal socio-political power and visibility.
Others like Mara, Pumzi, Words, Momowatsu, Yemaya, He looked like Solomon Lane and The Listening were created during my katabasis as i was unlearning and re-aligning to my creative practice and soul purpose.
I am drawn to the multifaceted work by women surreal artists such us Maya Deren, Wangechi Mutu, Leonora Carrington, Remedios Varo and Rada Iya whose art celebrates reclaimed and transformed feminine bodies of socio-political resistance and are full of magical symbolism, jungian psychology, dream imagery and women as forces of nature in surrealistic and domestic landscapes.
Authors such as N.K.Jemisin, Octavia E. Butler and Nnedi Okarofor further motivate my pull towards surrealistic storytelling using fantasy, speculative fiction and mythic narration.
Currently, I am aligned to creating stories using these themes of cyclical mythic journeys, awakening and metarmophosis in visual languages that celebrates the sacred and mundane.