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Who is Cocoa Rae?

Cocoa Rae is a New York-based visual artist, curator, photographer, and business owner of By Cocoa Rae LLC, who creates captivating portraits and art of unique and diverse people and captures their true essence. Her style consists of vivid colors, Afrocentric shapes, vibes, and bold lighting techniques. Cocoa's goal is to create a new style of photography and art that promotes individuality, authenticity, body positivity, and self-love. Cocoa Rae's photographic portfolio ranges in fashion, editorials, portraiture, and fine arts. Currently, Cocoa shoots both film and digital photography.


Cocoa Rae has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in digital photography. During her undergraduate years of art school, Cocoa started a year-long portrait array called Pigment Series; a collection of mixed media artwork that consists of semi-nude photography and body painting. Each portrait captures the model's true essence while promoting self-love, body positivity, and individuality. 

After graduating, Cocoa continued to work on the Pigment Series as well as other various artistic projects. In 2019, she became an Artist in Residence at Flower City Arts Center in Rochester, NY. 

Through all her years of work, Cocoa Rae has collaborated with various people and institutions, such as The Slave Dwelling Project, The Cocktail Bandits, Charleston Fashion Week, Charleston Magazine, Tedx Talks, Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester Artist Collaborative, Writers and Books, George Eastman House, and various others. In addition, she also curated two BLM exhibitions in honor of Daniel Prude. 



BFA in Digital Photography, 2018

Associates in Liberal Arts & Sciences, 2015


Art In Residence at Flower City Art Center, 2019-2021

Galleries & Exhibitions

Essence at Finger Lakes Community College Art Space 36

February 17th- April 2nd, 2022

Season of Warhol: The Black Vanguard at The Black House

 July 29th-August 8th, 2021

A Sanctuary for Daniel Prude at The Black House

 May 2nd-8th, 2021

Black Lives Through Lenses at The Ave: Blackbox Theatre

October 2nd- November 13th, 2020 

Things I Imagined at 540 West Main

May 1st-31st, 2019

Gaillard Center, Charleston, SC

September 10th,-24th, 2018

McLeod Plantation, James Island, SC

October-December 2017


The Creative Spirit: Art Section in Democrat & Chronicles 

March 20th, 2022

Truth & Freedom by Luther Brown

September 2021

In This Moment Chapbook: The Gatekeeper: Adrian Elim

April 2021

African Booty Scratcha by Lester Mayers

November 2019

Holy Spirits by The Cocktail Bandits

Winter/Spring 2018

House Calls

Winter 2018

Charleston Magazine

December 2017-January 2018

Articles & Videos


Background image by Adam Eaton

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