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Azikiwe Mohammed is a Guy Who Makes Stuff

March 23, 2022

Visit our Awards page for this film’s honors and recognition.

What is the story of New York City, and who gets left out?

“The word artist is a little funky … I would self-describe as a ‘guy who makes stuff.’” Rejecting the centuries long cult of the genius artist, Azikiwe Mohammed embraces the modest, the eclectic, and above all the helpful. Mohammed works in a range of mediums and skill sets from painting to puppets to furniture to tapestries, informed by the unpretentious aesthetics of the Black homes and spaces he traverses. Exploiting what he describes as a “bonus of the art space”, Mohammed sells and exchanges these art objects to operate more “useful to humans” activities. In his home of New York City the artist organizes free food distribution across the boroughs through the New Davonhaime Food Bank, and creates space for creative expression through his free mobile school, the Black Painters Academy. For his latest project, Mohammed opens Big Apple Gifts and Souvenirs in the Seaport area in Lower Manhattan, selling classic souvenirs like shirts, umbrellas, and jewelry that nod to the people and neighborhoods typically overlooked in New York City tourist shops. Animated by Mohammed’s humor and energy, this short documentary film captures an artist charting a creative path uniquely his own, sharing the fruits of his labor with the communities of New York City.

More information and credits


New York Close Up Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director & Editor: Brian Redondo. Cinematography: Nick Capezzera, Brian Redondo. Sound: Mariya Chulichkova. Sound Design & Mix: Gisela Fullà-Silvestre. Color Correction: Addison Post. Design & Graphics: Chips. Artwork Courtesy: Azikiwe Mohammed. Thanks: Anna Zorina, Beverly’s, Ysabel Pinyol Blasi, Black Gotham, Sekou Cherif, Creative Time, Gallery Walk NYC, Anne-Laure Lemaitre, Mana Contemporary, Marie Nyquist, Teresita Redondo, Topolski Jewelry, Diya Vij, Kamau Ware. © Art21, Inc. 2022. All rights reserved.

New York Close Up is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts; and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and by individual contributors.

Digital exhibition of New York Close Up films is made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Azikiwe Mohammed

Azikiwe Mohammed was born in 1982 in New York City, where he lives and works today. In 2004 the artist received his BFA from Bard College. Rejecting the idea that art’s ultimate aim is the expression of a creator’s unique genius, Mohammed is a self described “guy who makes stuff,” producing a playfully humble array of objects and spaces specifically intended to welcome and serve communities the fine arts world often overlooks.