By Dionne Searcey for The New York Times
When Covid-19 started spreading across the globe in late winter and some nations began sealing their borders, the American artist Kehinde Wiley was abroad and quickly had to decide where he wanted to ride out the coming viral storm.
He chose Dakar, Senegal, site of his spacious, magnificently windswept Black Rock studio complex on the sea. For the past year, the West African studio has been home to a revolving cast of painters, photographers, authors and others who were selected in Mr. Wiley’s first round of his residency program, designed to offer artists the time and space to pursue their craft.
Watching from across the Atlantic as America roils, deaths from the coronavirus mount, protests swell over police killings and Confederate statues fall has “felt like a bit of a freak show,” said Mr. Wiley.
The 43-year-old artist, whose father is Nigerian and mother is African-American, is best known for his portrait of President Barack Obama. His timely “Rumors of War” statue of a Black man with ponytailed dreadlocks, hoodie and ripped jeans on the back of a horse — in the style of monuments to Confederate war generals — graced Times Square last year before being moved to its permanent home in Richmond, Va.