Concrete Horsemen: Cian Oba-Smith

May 24, 2018 - June 24, 2018 - Billboards, Waterfront, Ipswich

African American contributions to horse culture have often been forgotten in the US (13 out of 15 jockeys in the first Kentucky derby in 1875 were African American) but throughout the country there have been African Americans keeping and breeding horses for the past few centuries.

Philadelphia is no exception, for over a hundred years there has been a lineage of black urban horsemen in Philadelphia. In North Philadelphia, which has a 97% African American population where over 50% live in poverty, there is a stable where horses are kept and ridden on the streets by a group of urban horsemen. The small community of horsemen is a family where boys & men come to bond over their love of horses. The series aims to challenge common stereotypes over race and class in a time where they are such heated topics of debate but ultimately it questions what it means to be a black man in America.

Cian Oba-Smith (b.1992) is an Irish Nigerian photographer from London. His work focuses on communities and subcultures around the world with a particular interest in approaching subjects that are often misrepresented and presenting them in a different light.

He has had his work featured on It’s Nice That, Dazed & Confused, Paper Journal, The Guardian and Wonderland, as well as being shortlisted for many awards.


Concrete Horsemen: Cian Oba-Smith

Stevie poses for a portrait with Ruffian in the stable, North Philadelphia © Cian Oba-Smith