A Conversation with Leilah Babirye

Leilah Babirye Senga Muzanganda (Auntie Muzanganda), 2020  Glazed ceramic, wire and found objects, 55 x 22 1/2 x 17 1/8 in. (139.7 x 57.15 x 43.51 cm). Property of a Private Collection, Boston. Leilah Babirye Nakatiiti from the Kuchu Grasshopper Clan, 2020. Wood, copper, nails, found objects, 63 3/4 x 29 1/2 x 8 in. (161.93 x 74.93 x 20.32 cm). Courtesy Gordon Robichaux, New York. Photos by Greg Carideo. Courtesy of the artist, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London and New York and Gordon Robichaux, New York

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In this conversation with Leilah Babirye, hear about our Leilah Babirye exhibition and the artist’s practice. 

This exhibition highlights a defining aspect of Babirye’s artistic practice: sculptures that incorporate the visual traits of African masks, merging the traditional with the contemporary. Babirye crafts with metal, ceramics, and hand-carved wood, adding rubber, nails, and other found objects to create contrasting textures. While rooted in the ruling kingdoms of present-day Uganda, Babirye’s artwork goes beyond historical representation. Instead, it weaves personal history and resilience into ambitious sculptures that create space for queer joy and liberation. 

Emerging from the artist’s own experiences of struggle, Babirye’s art transcends the personal. Through her experiments with form and materials, she is able to convey powerful emotions, provoke thought, and push the boundaries of creative expression.

This conversation is led by Natasha Becker, curator of African art, and followed by a short audience Q+A.

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About the speakers

Leilah Babirye is a multidisciplinary artist who is known for her LGBTQ+ activism and portraits of the LGBTQ+ community. She is celebrated as one of the most interesting, thought-provoking, and ambitious sculptors in contemporary art today. Born in 1985 in Kampala, Uganda, she studied art at Makerere University in Kampala (2007–2010). The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Natasha Becker is the inaugural curator of African art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She is focused on exploring new curatorial concepts, acquisition strategies, and special exhibitions that interpret the African art collection as a living and evolving culture and practice.

Ticket info

Free. Seating is limited and unassigned. Tickets for the program are distributed in front of the Koret Auditorium an hour before the program begins, first-come, first-served. This does not include admission to the museum.

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