To start, tell us about yourself. What’s your background & how did you get into making art?
My artistic practice started with dance. I studied ballet, tap, jazz and modern from the ages of 4-18. During high school I was able to participate in the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute in modern dance, and it was during that time that I was exposed to photography as an art form. I was mesmerized, but my parents were not so impressed. So when I went to the University of Oklahoma I studied Journalism with an emphasis in Advertising (a practical path). Consequently, that degree afforded me the opportunity to return to the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute as their Public Relations Intern, and reintroduce me to the wonders of photography thru the work of Christopher James. I was so moved by his documentary project that I sold my car, found a roommate on the internet in the late 90s and moved to Boston to study under Mr. James at the Art Institute of Boston (now the art school for Lesley University). It was the beginning of my life as an artist. Since then, I have attained a Master’s degree from the University of North Texas, have work in a number of prestigious collections and have been able to exhibit both nationally and internationally.
What are you currently working on? Describe your most recent body of work.
My current project, “Suffer/Rage,” focuses on the political ethos and gender issues in our world today. Suffrage is defined as the right to vote and a series of intercessory prayers or petitions. At this point, I have partnered with over 20 women of color artists from across the United States and Canada to create their own protest sign that expresses their personal suffrage and or prayers for the future. Women like Pamela Phatismo Sunstrum, a recent ArtPace Resident based in Toronto, Canada. Valerie Maynard has also agreed to participate. Ms. Maynard, born in Harlem in 1937, is an African-American sculptor, and printmaker based in Baltimore Maryland. She is a matriarch of the art world. A third example of the breath of artists in the project is Tina Medina. A Dallas based artist and professor who was selected by the Mexic-Arte Museum to be showcased in the 7th Annual Young Latino Artist’s Exhibition. All of the images will be printed onto vintage fabrics; sugar sacks, flour sacks and cotton-picking sacks. My piece, “Sugar and Spice,” includes an image of my ten year-old daughter holding a protest sign that says “Enough” in spray paint. Her pose is reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s painting “The Problem We All Live With,” an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement. The image is printed onto a six foot vintage cotton picking sack that references slavery, and the phrase “Enough” was taken from a recent speech by Dr. Martin Luther King’s nine year old granddaughter, Yolanda King, at the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C. where she spoke in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands and said: “I have a dream that enough is enough, and that this should be a gun-free world. Period.” Suffer/Rage will be finished in 2020, a big political year and the centennial for the women’s right to vote. This project gives voice to a vast group of female creatives of color during this historic time.