Mother Of Art
ROSE LUANGISA, The African Rose
Founder of Luangisa African Gallery and the Wakanda Celebration designed to introduce African culture, art, food and history to the general populace, celebrates 25 years of bringing beautiful art and fabulous finds to cities across the United States.
The gallery was nominated by Vogue as one of five amazing artisans at the Afropunk Festival in 2016. Loyal customers are always excited to see what Luangisa has in store (literally and figuratively) and always look forward to supporting her in the beautiful and creative gallery environment. Luangisa carries authentic fine African art for the home and wearable art for the body.
MONARCH: How did your journey of becoming the proprietor of Luangisa African Gallery begin?
ROSE LUANGISA: I was born and raised in Tanzania. I came to the United States in 1987 with $200 in my pocket and settled in my ad- opted home in Mount Vernon, New York ever since. I came with a couple of Makonde artifacts and over the years my mother would send me artifacts to decorate our home. In 1996, we were forced to move out of our house, and I did not know what to do with all the artifacts I had decorated all over the house. I heard of an annual event in Mount Vernon held in July called the Afrikan Family Day. I paid $50 to vend at the event and, at the end of the day, I had made $900 in sales. I took $800 and sent it back to my mother in Tanzania to buy me more artifacts. That was the birth of Luangisa African Gallery.
MONARCH: Who influenced you?
ROSE LUANGISA: My mother is my biggest influencer. She has a shop #14 at the Mwenge Woodcarvers Market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. That is where most of my Makonde artifacts are hand crafted.
MONARCH: Does the artwork reflect Tanzania solely or is there a reflection of the entire African diaspora?
“I am inspired in telling and teaching my son and the world about our African culture, heritage, traditions and history.”
and making a fortune without acknowledging the source! I am the founder of the annual Wakanda Celebration that brings the Westchester community together to celebrate African culture, fashion, art, food, movement, history and much more. Wakanda 4ever is in its fourth year and will be celebrated on September 4, 2021. The entire Westchester
ROSE LUANGISA: We carry artifacts from all over Africa to reflect the entire African diaspora. Our Gallery has artifacts from South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Cameroon, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Benin, Rwanda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Democratic Re- public of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Mali, Zambia and Ivory Coast. One of the main focus of Luangisa African Gallery is the Makonde sculptures from Tanzania made of premium ebony hard- wood (made from the Mpingo tree).
MONARCH: What inspires you?
ROSE LUANGISA: I am inspired in telling and teaching my son and the world about our African culture, heritage, traditions and history. I am also a strong believer in preserving African artifacts for generations to come. I love working directly with artisans to develop distinctive new products bringing the finest accents to the world.
MONARCH: Is there a resurgence of Black Americans looking to explore or reflect their African heritage?
ROSE LUANGISA: More than ever now, African Americans are in tune with the motherland especially now. With all these movies coming out such as “Black Panther” and “Coming 2 America” many African Americans are very comfortable and proud of their heritage and culture. Also artists such as Janet Jackson and Beyoncé have highlighted African fashion in their music videos, and this has portrayed the African lifestyle and fashion in a very positive way.
MONARCH: Your artwork is beautiful. Have the pieces been featured in film or on television?
ROSE LUANGISA: Our artifacts are a stellar collection and have been featured in the Spike Lee’s romance/comedy “She’s Gotta Have It.”
MONARCH: Other ethnic groups have always been able to influence American culture and successfully sell items from their culture to Americans. Do you think that the United States embraces the African culture the same as others?
ROSE LUANGISA: The United States does embrace the African culture especially with people that have a connection to the motherland. As you can see, African culture/fashion is taking center stage across the world and designers such as Stella McCartney, Louis Vuitton and others are copying traditional African designs and making a fortune without acknowledging the source! I am the founder of the annual Wakanda Celebration that brings the Westchester community together to celebrate African culture, fashion, art, food, movement, history and much more. Wakanda 4ever is in its fourth year and will be celebrated on September 4, 2021. The entire Westchester community looks forward to our celebration and they embrace it. They love and look forward to the Wakanda Fashion Show which takes place at 5 p.m.
MONARCH: How has Covid-19 affected the sales and production of your artwork?
ROSE LUANGISA: Covid has put a major dent in our sales and production and we are in very poor health. Our gallery has been closed and is open by ap
pointment only. It is very difficult to ship our artifacts from Africa to New York. Shipping charges have quadrupled. The borders across Africa have closed, and it is very difficult to get our artifacts into the United States. In short, it is a nightmare!
MONARCH: Do you do custom orders?
ROSE LUANGISA: Yes we do custom orders. With custom orders, turn around used to be one month. With Covid, turnaround can take up to two months if we are lucky.
MONARCH: How can people put a request in for an order?
ROSE LUANGISA: They can visit our website: www.luangisa.com For retail partners, they can sign up to receive wholesale discounts which is 50% off our retail prices. They are even welcome to email us via email@example.com or call me via 914-720-7179 for a in person visit to the gallery.
MONARCH: What is next for Rose?
ROSE LUANGISA: I want to open up an African museum in Westchester County, New York. In the museum, we will have an African Restaurant, museum shop and all kinds of workshops, including dance, poetry and drumming classes for the community.