Producer and art collector, Swizz Beatz took to his Instagram in May to announce a new initiative spearheaded along with his wife, Alicia Keys. Called the ‘Dean Collection Start-Ups’, they are awarding 20 artists a grant of $5,000 each to put on their own show.

Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz award art grant

Alicia Keys &Swiss Beatz for Cultured magazine.


They received thousands of applicants from around the world and worked with a curatorial team to shortlist the artists that would receive the grant. For diversity of styles,recipients of the grants were selected from all continents – Africa, Asia, North and South America, Europe, and Australia. As a bonus, an additional $25,000 has been earmaked for four of these awardees, to be received depending on the shows they produce.

The recipients of the grant were announced this June and they are: Fadi Alhamwi, Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, Jorge Calderón, Razahk Issaka, Ton Vajanpanich, Erwin “Skip” Brea, Hana El-Sagini, Tanda Francis, Rimon Guimarães, Penda Diakité, Fletcher Williams, Shanina Dionna, Kimani Beckford, Sara Rahbar, Pierre-Christophe Gam, Danielle Roberts, Emma Lindsay, Ekene Emeka-Maduka, Rada Iya, and Shawn Warren.

We were particularly excited about Ayobola Kekere-Ekun as she is one of Nigeria’s fast-rising artists, known for her exceptional quilling work; using paper strips and glue to create vibrant, colourful pieces.

Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, The Token Bone, 2017, Paper, and Acrylic on Canvas and Board (Mixed Media), 103 x 93 cm

Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, The Crown, 2017, Paper, and Acrylic on Canvas and Board, 122 x 91 cm


Also  known as Ayobola K, she was featured in a group exhibition of Nigeria’s most promising young artists by Artyrama in December 2017.