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With Lots of Eye Contact, Something Clicked

by Jersey Lady

From the moment Derek Faugeur made eye contact with Alexis Johara Fikira Hogue at a holiday party in Brooklyn in December 2019, he said, “I was immediately interested in her.”

Fordjour was at a party hosted by visual artist Hank Willis Thomas with a friend. Ms. Hoag was there on a date, but had lost interest in her companions by the time Ms. Forjour walked over to where she was standing with a group of people. We didn’t talk much at the show, but I remember making a lot of eye contact with both of them.

As Mr. Faujour, 47, was leaving the party, Mr. Hoag, 40, asked how he kept in touch. Her Instagram handles were swapped, and then her phone number.A week after her party, he asked her out for her dinner, but she declined. She was off on her trip to South Africa the next day.

When she shared her stays in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban on Instagram, rejection didn’t stop him from messaging her. The artist had visited South Africa six months ago and appreciated Hoag’s Instagram comments about the country’s colonial history.

Mr. Fordjour met Mr. Hoag at the end of a breakthrough year in his career. In the spring of 2019, the Memphis native sold his self-portraits his series “Top-Ten ALLSTARS” to his Jay-Z and his Beyoncé. That fall, his work Agency and Regulation (study) sold at auction for more than double his estimated price. Recently, he has presented his work in an outdoor series at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and a solo exhibition at the David Kordansky Gallery in New York.

His message about traveling with Hoag wasn’t “very sexy,” she said, but his interest in issues she cared about appealed to her.

A native of Southern California with a law degree from New York University, Mr. Hoag worked as a criminal defense attorney for more than a decade before joining the faculty at Brooklyn Law School. The school’s criminal justice center.

After her trip, the two had their first date at the Brooklyn Chop House in January 2020. Until the restaurant closed, they talked about family dynamics and being first-generation African Americans. Her family is from the Chagga tribe of Tanzania and he is from the Ashanti tribe of Ghana.

On their second date two days later, they got into conversation at ROKC restaurant in upper Manhattan, and Hoag said, “I think we forgot to eat.”

As their romance developed, the two say they benefited from lessons learned in past relationships. He is also Fordjour’s father.

After his first marriage of nine years ended in divorce in 2013, Fordjour has come to recognize the importance of what he calls “focused self-work.” The queer Hoag says that after divorcing his wife of two and a half years in 2017, he learned that relationships require constant nurturing and intention.

Although she dated mostly women before meeting Mr. Forjour, she said the two formed a “deep soul connection” through their shared will to be vulnerable.

By the summer of 2020, the two moved into an apartment together in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood when New York was in pandemic lockdown. “It wasn’t like running away,” Hogue said of their relationship.

They engaged in a carefully planned proposal coordinated by Mr. Fordjour the following year, December 2021.

He had the studio director send Hoag an invitation to a fake art gala at the Prince George Ballroom in Midtown Manhattan. “There were even people waiting outside with guest lists and clipboards,” she said when she arrived in her suggested cocktail attire. I saw that there was only one table reserved for dinner and Mr. Fordjour asked her to marry him.

On July 9, the two married in front of 180 guests at Cooper Hewitt’s Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden at the Smithsonian Design Museum in Manhattan. Ms. Hoag’s friend, Ms. Anita Aboagiye Agyeman, who is from the same tribe as Ms. Faujours, officiated on the occasion after being ordained by the US Department of Marriage.

At the ceremony, the groom’s son took the bride down the aisle. After being introduced as newlyweds on her opening beat of Gucci Mane’s “Freaky Girl,” the couple kicked off the reception and performed their first dance to Prince’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.”

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