ETI introduces Ma-Lik Nasir – Changing the art of photography one shot at a time

What does it mean to redefine art? Just ask Ma-Lik Nasir, the future in contemporary art who specializes in dazzling 70’s inspired photography. His view on taking models (professional and amateur) and transporting them back in time, depicts the subjects in a mosaic of vibrant colors, fragmented shapes, rhinestone and stylish Afros. He makes each model become so grounded and perfectly comfortable in their own space, that the models come to life on film usually pictured portraying themselves as if they lived in an era that most of them were never born in.

For the past decade, Ma-Lik Nasir, a native of New Orleans, currently living in Atlanta, GA, has concentrated on creating portraits, in various formats. He skillfully photographs his muses as if they were his lumps of clay that he molds into arts of beauty through his lens. This gesture in itself challenges conventional notions of femininity, sexuality and blackness in art history, especially given the complicated role of black bodies in 19th-century paintings.

Often working from his home studio in the inner city of Atlanta, Ma-Lik Nasir has a singular aesthetic combining memories of his ’70s childhood, pop culture and classical art in large-scale works that often seem to draw on chic blaxploitation films like Gordon Parks’ Shaft.

His muses, adorned in lush fabrics, unapologetic bold prints and close up shots, will make you question if he shot them in 1972 or modern day because they are such authentic timepiece works of art. By portraying real people with their own unique history, beauty and background, he works to diversify the representations of black people in art.

Outside of academic art circles and the gallery scene, Ma-Lik Nasir is kind of a Renaissance rock star in his own right because of the exclusive work that he produces for the Nation of Islam. ETI has called Nasir’s artwork post-black and post-feminist because of its nuanced rebelliousness. 

Nasir’s work is helping to motivate art’s next wave, which we predict will be more culturally diverse. He is proving what’s happening in art now is the validation of the current African American movement.

Anyone who follows the art of photography have studied the work of prominent African-American history makers like John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, Aaron Douglas, Sam Gilliam, Barkley Hendricks, Hughie Lee-Smith, Faith Ringgold, Charles White and Hale Woodruff. We believe that now you can include the name Ma-Lik Nasir to that list! Remember, you first heard of him from us!


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