“An artist can show things that other people are terrified of expressing” – Louise Bourgeois
Art making enables me to explore deep questions about interconnectivity; the shared experiences and singularity of the human condition. By engaging a collaborative art making process I discover similarities that transcend race or socioeconomic status. Many of us share the same hopes for our children, communities and futures. I believe that art is a universal language that has the potential to disrupt silos, interrogate the separate worlds we place ourselves within, and promote collaborative learning environments that may encourage us to live together as our best selves.
I am drawn to the medium of largescale mural paintings and placemaking. I paint murals to create a vibrant atmosphere that breathes life into spaces that have been neglected. I paint them for residents of Baltimore City like Ms. Sarah who shared with me that, “Now when I walk out of my house, I smile at the bright colors and imagine a sunrise on the beach. It’s so much better than that horrible concrete wall that was there before! When are you going to do the other wall?” (referring to the Bon Secours Centennial mural on 2000 block of W. Baltimore)
Through partnerships with organizations like The Neighborhood Design Center and BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development), I have been invited into neighborhoods in East and West Baltimore to envision public spaces based on resident interests and vision. Darley Park is one of the most successful placemaking projects I have been a part of. Since 2010, I have worked alongside community leaders and local politicians to acquire empty lots and transform them from dumping grounds, ridden with drugs, to safe spaces for children, families and artists. Today, residents report that they have witnessed gun owners put their weapons down before they enter into Darley Park.
I find that mural painting is a productive tool for encouraging community members to become critical stakeholders in their neighborhoods. The mural design process creates a platform for communities to discuss their intentions, fears and pain, and emote those feelings through art. Each mural is an incredibly personal experience for me in that it evokes thoughtful reflection, awareness and sensitivity to the experiences of communities outside of my own.
I also have an active studio practice influenced by the uninhibited drawings of French, Feminist artist, Louise Bourgeois, and the stark critiques of Robert Rauschenberg. My mixed media works layer collaged images and gestural paint strokes. My abstractions express broad political and social commentaries about this moment and imagined futures. Often, the abstractions engage the personal as political; the dance, unpredictability and entanglements that occur in our everyday lives. The series “Cover Up” is especially evocative of these themes. The lines and layers of the colors I use conjure moments of tranquility that often rupture into tension and confusion. My paintings embrace the ebbs and flows of our lives; patterns, defeats and breakthroughs.
My latest series of works are inspired by a question my eight-year-old daughter asked me about her best friend Lillyian, who is African American. “Why do people stare at me and Lillyian?”, she pondered. I thought for a while before I responded. “People stare because they presume that it is abnormal for two little girls of different races, who live in different neighborhoods in Baltimore City to play together.” While my answer was sufficient for the time, I found her need to ask the question troubling. Through a series of largescale mixed media paintings, I will interrogate the conditions that fostered my daughters’ question. Each work features photos of Adelaide and Lillyian embracing in outdoor environments throughout Baltimore City. I believe that art has the power to transform perspectives and strengthen communities.