Paula Mans

48″x26″; acyrlic, paper collage, and denim on wood panel; 2022

Paula Mans
Washington, DC, USA


Paula Mans tells the many stories of the global Black experience through collage. The artist views collage as emblematic of the cultural and historical interconnectedness of the African Diaspora. Just as the dispersed people of the African Diaspora are tied together by the common thread of ancestry, in collage, small, seemingly disjointed pieces are fused to communicate one story. In her analog collage works, Paula draws from an extensive collection of portrait photography of people from across the Diaspora–cutting, deconstructing, layering, bonding, and resignifying small parts to assemble new faces and forms that communicate identity and shared experiences.


Paula Mans (b. 1986) is a self-taught painter, collagist, and art educator based in Washington, DC. While Paula is a native Washingtonian, she spent many of the formative years of her childhood and young adulthood living abroad in Tanzania, Mozambique, Eswatini, and Brazil. Her experiences throughout the African Diaspora shaped her identity and informed the development of her artistic voice. Living in Washington, DC and Salvador, Brazil has been particularly impactful for the artist. Both cities are diasporic meccas for Black cultural expression. DC (often referred to as Chocolate City) and Salvador (frequently called Roma Negra, or Black Rome in Portuguese) are famous for their prominent and influential Black populations. Nonetheless, racism and gentrification often render Black people invisible in both cities. In her artistic practice, Paula Mans seeks to deconstruct these pervasive power structures by amplifying the visibility and agency of the Black figure.


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