Professor Adama Delphine Fawundu ‘18 Awarded Prize from Anonymous Was a Woman

BY Angeline Dimambro, November 16, 2021

Assistant Professor Adama Delphine Fawundu ’18 was among the winners of the 2021 Anonymous Was a Woman Awards.


Anonymous Was a Woman is a New York-based organization that, for twenty years, has given an annual award to women-identifying artists over the age of 40. Originally launched in 1996 by artist Susan Unterberg, the award program was established in part to support mid-career women artists at crucial points in their practice.


“When I started Anonymous Was A Woman, I did so to address a need that I felt personally as a woman artist in the middle of her career,” Unterberg said in a statement to ARTnews. “I never dreamed that it could inspire other individuals to join us in advancing our mission, although the need for direct support to artists remains as significant as ever.”


This year, the organization has expanded its program and, thanks to two anonymous donors, will now award an additional $300,000 in funding to twelve artists. Thanks to this new generous donation, the organization will be able to award four more artists each year for the next three years.


Among the 2021 awardees is Fawundu, whose work has been featured in dozens of exhibitions, both solo and group. As part of the award, Fawundu will receive $25,000 from the Anonymous Was a Woman organization.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Mende father from Sierra Leone and a Bubi mother from Equatorial Guinea, Adama Delphine Fawundu (b. 1971) seeks to link past and present by embodying feminine African deities, inserting herself into the archive of Black history, and celebrating the transmission of cultural knowledge by her female forebears. Combining photographic processes and ancestral fabric design techniques, Fawundu creates work that explores the significance of hair, cotton, and water as symbols of the legacy of colonialism. At the same time, she celebrates the creative flowering of the African diaspora. Fawundu additionally works as a documentary photographer and writer, a capacity in which she, with Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, coauthored the inaugural volume of MFON: Women Photographers of the African Diaspora. This book features over 100 women photographers of African descent from around the globe. Fawundu was featured in the critically acclaimed Netflix documentary film, In Our Mother’s Garden directed by Shantrelle P. Lewis. She was awarded a Rema Hort Mann Artist Grant as well as the New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship amongst other awards. She received her MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University. She is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies for the Visual Arts Program at Columbia.