Le Grand Boubou (The Grand Dress) subtly reveals the beauty and tradition of West African women and culture. I began this body of work 18 years ago during my Fulbright residence in The Gambia and continued in Senegal, Guinea & Mali over five years. In 2021 I returned to the series, including portraits of women in the United States. The Grand Boubou has been a fashionable component and necessity for women primarily from West Africa. It always stays in style and constantly seems to reinvent itself well over decades. The Boubou may also symbolize status and elegance.

The Boubou can be elaborately adorned with embroidery or perhaps locally hand dyed onto high quality (Cotton/Bazin Riche) with intricate patterns. These colorful works of art are worn in everyday life and concurrently at weddings, local ceremonies, and prayers.

New York City is home to some of the largest West African Communities. Glimpses of their dress, celebrations, and customs can occasionally be seen while walking down a city block. This body of work explores the styles and aesthetics while simultaneously asking the viewer to step back and take a closer look into these women’s lives. Often they are entrepreneurs in a global business of African textiles and tie-dye and support African women from the continent and throughout Europe, Asia, the United States & many parts of the world occupied by these sub-communities. Unsurprisingly, the artisans who create these elaborate patterns and myriads of colors have used these techniques as early as the 11th Century. Many styles have influenced the global runways of fashion week, the patchwork of local tailoring shops, and pop-culture associations. In a world where globalization has made fashion accessible to everyone at mass-produced and reduced quality, these garments have become one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Popular culture has spread its influence in the vast local markets in Africa, where you can find the same high-quality Bazin Riche tie-dye with popular names such as Facebook and VIP.

Artist Bios

  • Nzingah Oyo

    Nzingah Oyo is an award-winning photographer and curator with reviews in numerous publications, including; Art In America, The New York Times, Art in Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer Arts Review, and La Stampa (Italy). She has an MFA in Photography from Temple’s Tyler School of Art and is a Fulbright Scholar. She has taught photography at the university level and has exhibited in solo and group shows internationally and nationally. Her work depicts layered narratives that examine and celebrate culture, politics, and global social dynamics.


  • Photoville


    Founded in 2011 in Brooklyn, NY, Photoville was built on the principles of addressing cultural equity and inclusion, which we are always striving for, by ensuring that the artists we exhibit are diverse in gender, class, and race.

    In pursuit of its mission, Photoville produces an annual, city-wide open air photography festival in New York City, a wide range of free educational community initiatives, and a nationwide program of public art exhibitions.

    By activating public spaces, amplifying visual storytellers, and creating unique and highly innovative exhibition and programming environments, we join the cause of nurturing a new lens of representation.

    Through creative partnerships with festivals, city agencies, and other nonprofit organizations, Photoville offers visual storytellers, educators, and students financial support, mentorship, and promotional & production resources, on a range of exhibition opportunities.

    For more information about Photoville visit,

Le Grand Boubou (The Grand Dress)

 archive : 2023

Featuring: Nzingah Oyo

Presented by: Photoville
  • Photoville


ON VIEW AT: Photo Prism 45

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