Recognised for her unique sculptures and use of discarded materials, Leilah Babirye (b. 1985) incorporates metals, ceramics and hand-carved wood in her multidisciplinary practice to explore themes of identity, sexuality and queer activism. Babirye, who fled Uganda’s anti-LGBT legislation and hostile political climate, uses her work to address the lived experiences of those in the queer community in Uganda and across Africa. Babirye has cultivated a signature style through her blend of African iconography, such as masks and totems, as well as ‘found’ materials sourced from the streets of New York, to express and celebrate LGBTQ+ stories and identities. Informed by the artist’s own personal history, Babirye’s work often positions mask-like heads and faces as her primary subject matter, referencing her heritage whilst advocating for her community.

‘Reusing materials is important to me, as a person who comes from a background where the LGBTQ community is looked at as trash still today. As an artist, I find beauty in using found materials to showcase and reclaim my community.’

L. Babirye, ‘Leilah Babirye on Reclaiming her Queer Community’ in Art in America, 2021.

Image: Omulangila NaKattakkesu from the Kuchu Royal Family of Buganda, 2022, wood, wax, glue, acrylic, lags, washers, nails, aluminium and found objects, 210.5 x 57 x 28.5 cm.; 82 7/8 x 22 1/2 x 11 1/4 in. Photo: Nicolas Brasseur




Born in Kampala, Uganda


BA Fine Art, Sculpture and Art History, Makerere University, Kampala

Lives and works in Brooklyn, New York


Columbus Museum of Art

The Africa Centre, London

Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry

Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson

mumok, Vienna

RISD Museum, Providence

Sainsbury Centre, Norwich

Sammlung Goetz, Munich

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art, Shandong



Gordon Robichaux, New York

We Have a History

de Young Museum, San Francisco

Obumu (Unity)
Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton


Bya ba Kuchu mu Buganda (Kuchu Clans of Buganda)
Gordon Robichaux, Los Angeles


Bya ba Kuchu mu Buganda (Kuchu Clans of Buganda) II
Stephen Friedman Gallery, London


Ebika B
ya ba Kuchu mu Buganda (Kuchu Clans of Buganda)
Gordon Robichaux, New York

Gwe Is Ye Nze, Lekka Mbele Nze (You Are Not Me, Let Me Be Me)

Rebecca Camacho Presents, San Francisco


Amatwaale Ga Ssekabaka Mwanga II (The Empire of King Mwanga II)

Gordon Robichaux, New York



The 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia: Stranieri Ovunque / Foreigners Everywhere

Central Pavilion (Giardini)
Arsenal, Venice

Liquid Gender

Sainsbury Centre, Norwich


The Divine Feminine: Contemporary Women Sculptors

Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, West Palm Beach

Dreaming of Home

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York

This Too Shall Pass

Venus Over Manhattan, New York


Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Traces of Displacement

Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester

Living Art Sharing Stories

Sainsbury Centre, Norwich

Distant Voices

Galerie Max Hetzler, Paris

Drawings by Sculptors

Helena Anrather, New York


Black Atlantic

Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York

Mixed up with others before we even begin

mumok, Vienna

Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art

Hayward Gallery, London

Contemporary African Art Collection

The Africa Centre, London

52 Artists: Revisiting a Feminist Milestone

The Aldrich, Ridgefield

The odds are good, the goods are odd

Lisson Gallery, New York

Set It Off

Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill

On The Nature of Things

Andrew Kreps, New York


Coventry Biennial: Hyper-Possible

Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry

David Wojnarowicz: Tidal Motion

445 Commercial Street, Provincetown


La MaMa Galleria, New York


25 Years

Stephen Friedman Gallery, London

When Sun Comes Out

Blank Forms, New York 

Did I Ever Have a Chance?

Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Beverly Hills

Art on the Grid

Public Art Fund, New York

Intimate Companions

Mary Heaton Vorse House, Provincetown

A Page From My Intimate Journal (Part II)

Gordon Robichaux at Parker Gallery, Los Angeles


Flight: A Collective History

Hessel Museum of Art, CCS Bard, Annandale-on-Hudson

Stonewall 50

Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Plays On Camp

Assembly Room, New York

The Other Is You: Brooklyn Queer Portraiture

BRIC, New York

Fur Cup

Underdonk, New York

Nobody’s World

Gordon Robichaux, New York


STRANGE ATTRACTORS: The Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Art, Vol. 2 The Rings of Saturn

Kerry Schuss, New York

The Socrates Annual

Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City

Worlds Apart | Worlds Reframed: Images & Voices of the Queer Diaspora

Concordia University, Portland


Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Small Works for Big Change

Participant Inc, New York

Let Go or Be Dragged

Gordon Robichaux, NADA, New York

Leilah Babirye, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Siobhan Liddell, and Tabboo!

Gordon Robichaux, New York


When Things Fall Apart: Critical Voices on the Radars

Trapholt Museum, Kolding

Art and Resistance
, curated by the Center for Constitutional Rights
Mormor Studio, New York

Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Small Works for Big Change

Cooper Union Gallery, New York

Sites of Exchange: Lavender Diaspora

Clifford Chance US LLP, New York and Washington D.C.


FIAR: Fire Island Art Residency Exhibition

Cherry Grove Community House, Fire Island


Makere Art Gallery, Kampala


Uganda Museum, Kampala


NAFASI Art Space, Dar-Es-Salaam


Kuona Art Trust, Nairobi

Women Exhibition

Shelton Hotel, Kampala


C. Lauson, R. Rugoff & A. Sherlock, Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art, exh. cat., Hayward Gallery, London; Berlin: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2022

A. French, R. Hughes & M. Pigott, eds., Introducing Coventry Biennial 2021: Hyper-Possible, exh. cat., Coventry: Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, 2021

L. O’Neill-Butler & R. J. Parker, Leilah Babirye, exh. cat., London / New York: Stephen Friedman Gallery / Gordon Robichaux, 2021

M. Andersson, et al., 25 Years, exh. cat., London: Stephen Friedman Gallery, 2020

N’Goné Fall, et al., When things fall apart. Critical voices on the radars, exh. cat., Trapholt Museum of Modern Art and Design, Kolding; Dakar: GawLab Collective Dakar, 2016


Selected Press

Apollo Magazine March 2024

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Art Basel March 2024

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Bomb Magazine October 2022

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Wallpaper* July 2022

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Artsy June 2022

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Cultured Mag October 2018

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Out March 2018

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Blouinartinfo.com December 2016

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