Nafasi Art Space is a Hidden Gem

Nafasi Art Space is a non-profit contemporary art center where creativity and community thrive.

Tucked behind a cement wall on a side street in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, the true beauty of Nafasi Art Space is camouflaged by its unassuming vibe.

Entrance to Nafasi Art Space.

Entrance to Nafasi Art Space.

Founded in 2008 by a small group of Tanzanian artists with the goal to improve access to and participation in the visual arts, the center now hosts 50 artists, 37 studios and several exhibition spaces. Events include presentations, exhibitions, festivals, film screenings and workshops. Artists range from sculptors to painters and programs cover kids painting to dance.

Nafasi is unique in that it is not commercially focused, which allows contemporary experimental art to flourish.

The sculptor, Big Mama, rumored to be thin and beautiful, has a workshop teaming with self-portraiture. Across the yard, the World of Weaving (WOW) workshop creates unique hand woven designs, which are featured in boutique shops around the country. Guests can stop by to learn about the making and dying of fibers and watch barefooted weavers compress the petals of the wooden weaving machines, like pianists in concert.

The workshop of “Big Mama”

The workshop of “Big Mama”

Loom at WOW

Loom at WOW

Communal & event space.

Communal & event space.

The physical space is an eclectic mix of buildings, open spaces and repurposed shipping containers. The largest structure is an open-walled multi-purpose event space. On a typical day, this space may be filled with students taking dance or yoga classes; for an event, it might host a band.

Guests are welcome to visit any time for a tour, but its best to visit during events when a majority of artists are available to share their work. Check out the website and stop by to collect a truly unique piece of contemporary African art.

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Loom at WOW

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Scarves by WOW