Nigerian artist Haneefah Adam turns food into art
Most people dispose of their food leftovers, but in Nigerian-born visual artist Haneefah Adam’s kitchen, they’re put to good use.
Adam, 28, is famous for presenting food in creative ways, using it to make portraits and other works of art.
“I have always been artistic,” she tells CNN. “Growing up, my mother said I had a flair for art.”
A medical scientist by training, Adam first made a name for herself in 2015 when she transformed Barbie into Hijarbie – a hijab-wearing Muslim doll.
Now, she’s building a career out of rejigging food into art. “I do regular portraits, I sew and paint, but what excites me the most is food,” she says.
Adam is inspired by random things, including life experiences and culture. She sees everything around her as something that can be made into art.
In 2016, she won the #TechMeetsArtNG exhibition, sponsored by Samsung Nigeria and Rele Gallery. The competition was a culinary exhibition aimed at exploring the artistic presentation of some of Nigeria’s local meals.
Her winning entry, pictured above, was inspired by one of her favorite childhood meals, ogbono soup, a southern Nigerian delicacy made from the dried seeds of mangoes.
She says the art represents an African woman adorned in vibrant colors.
“Before the competition, my art was mostly random, and I was just documenting food on social media. But after winning, I started to think about actively making a living from food art,” she says.
Winning the competition kick-started Adam’s career and her full-time job is now creating art for food brands such as Maggi and Dangote Salt.
In the next few years, Adam wants to be more present in the vibrant art scene in Africa, including that of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center.
“I want to partake in more exhibitions. I currently live in Kwara, northern Nigeria; it is difficult to make a mark in the country’s art scene from here,” she says.