Kendra Lyimo

BA Honors | Art History


My name is Kendra Lyimo and I am originally from Gibbon, Minnesota. I am graduating from Notre Dame with an Honors degree in Art History with minors in Africana Studies and Italian. After graduation, I will spend two years in the United Kingdom as a recipient of the Marshall Scholarship where I will pursue a Master’s in the History of Design at the Royal College of Art followed by a Master’s in African Studies at SOAS University of London. I am deeply thankful to the faculty in the Art History department who have supported my growth as a student and a scholar in art history. I am especially thankful for Dr. Tatiana Reinoza who served as my advisor throughout this project and who has been a source of inspiration and guidance during my four years at Notre Dame.


Through three case studies, my thesis explores how artists Wangechi Mutu, Firelei Báez, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter understand and depict Afro-diasporic identity in their respective artistic mediums and social contexts. I argue that these three artists represent Afro-diasporic identity through the lens of Black womanhood in their artwork to deconstruct and decolonize three structures that have historically reinforced misogynistic, anti-Black sentiments—science, nationhood, and popular culture. My analysis reveals that the dialogue between the artwork of Mutu, Báez, and Knowles-Carter transforms the Black woman’s body into a space of storytelling, healing, and belonging that conveys the nuances and contradictions of the diaspora. With my thesis, I wanted to underline the inherent diversity of an encompassing term like the African Diaspora that contains so many distinct experiences, histories, and identities. 

Black Is Queen: Afro-Diasporic Identity in the Art of Wangechi Mutu, Firelei Báez, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter