On my trip to Rio de Janeiro, I had a memorable night attending an art galleria gathering at Z42 Arte Contemporanea - Rona Art Studios. I met this painter-graffiti artist and gentleman named, Raphael Cruz. We introduced ourselves, and right after, we talked about our talent and self-interpretation of art. We indulged into a broader conversation about Afro-Brazilian culture in comparison to Afro-American culture, and how our exchange could strengthen the African Diaspora. As a result, this led to us wanting to work together. For starters, as we agreed to work on other projects, I gave him an all-white dress I made, and he painted this marvelous African motif.

All photos are owned by Raphael Cruz. Photos provided for permissible use  


The white dress was for a separate conceptual project I had in mind. Ironically, I had the dress with me in case I thought of another idea. Fortunately, I discovered Cruz and a new design came to light. The dress is 100% cotton, made in ribbed knit, dyed in white; a tunic silhouette, form-fitting throughout the body. Raphael Cruz’s niche with paint/graphic art represents African imagery. He applies a unique scripture to the upper body and cuffs. The motif is an emblem of ancestral Afro-Brazilian heritage.

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