FOR US, BY US

I first discovered my talent as a little girl when I looked at a photo and began to draw a self portrait. As I was satisfied with the outcome, I began to draw every face, eye, or mouth I could see. This knack for drawing portraits turned into an aspiration, and I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Referring back to my childhood, the media had my attention and it was hard for me not to notice the lack of representation of girls that look like me, Black. I believed that being skinny with fair skin and long, silky hair were the only characteristics of beauty. This lack of representation led me to believe that what I was born with was not good enough or beautiful and it wasn’t until my late teens that I discovered my divinity. The very exclusive beauty standards being portrayed in the media are in dire need of a change and that’s exactly what my art will do. 

The medium I use is digital art which allows me to create art and easily upload it to the audience of my choice. I believe social media is the best way to directly connect to the youth and to spread my message. I use a variety of warm toned browns, deep toned primary colors, as well as creamy neutrals as those felt the most natural for me to use. Also, to represent divinity I usually add a gold halo around the head. To complete the works I use a black or light wood toned frame. For the portraits, my preferred styles of realism and cartoon-y drawings blend to produce women with some exaggerated features and more realistic ones. My portraits are either the bust or body of a woman. When looking at the busts, the focus is on the features of the face or hair. The focus for the bodies would be the shapes and positioning. I paint using a digital oil brush, which I feel like adds more life and depth to each portrait. When looking at them one should be captivated and drawn into the deep colors of the skin tones. The feeling of confidence and elegant pride should engulf viewers.

My creative process is rather simple compared to the meaning behind this exhibition. Usually I go to find inspiration through social media. Though the media often enforces a particular type of beauty, I make it my choice to look at what is aesthetically pleasing to me and photos of people that give me positive reinforcements. So my feeds are normally filled with black women and men whether it be family, friends, or strangers. And if I see a photo that catches my eye I tend to draw it. I know that I have the right photo once I get excited to draw and my mind races to figure out how exactly I can execute a given portrait. I usually draw the person and later decide on a design choice that will be a focal point whether it has to deal with color, adding accessories, or some sort of pattern. After this, the piece is usually done and I start to form a thoughtful meaning behind it. That is my process.

It is important for me to get across my themes of Black beauty and the beauty of my culture. The standard of beauty is subjective and forever changing, but what I am showcasing should be a relevant standard for years to come. There are many stereotypes placed on Black women that negatively affects and alienates us. My pieces are helping to give accurate representation of Black women and most importantly they work to be proactive for the next generation of little Black girls to already have confidence instilled in them.