Black with a Capital "B"
How do you celebrate your Blackness during Black History Month?
I was lucky enough to grow up in a community where the influence of Blackness on the culture has always been highly visible—Black history programs in school, Black trail rides by the Southwest Trail Ride Alliance through the hood and Black Heritage Days at the Houston Rodeo were opportunities where we could just show out. I was taught the importance of celebrating Blackness 365 days a year, because I'm Black beyond February. In the words of the late Whitney Houston, "We need a whole year."
In what ways have you incorporated your Blackness into your creative medium?
My creative work is linked to the personhood of Black identity. While the collage work is 100 percent based on how I've navigated social spaces as a dark-skin Black woman, I use my photo work to create the representation that I feel history missed.
What restorative work do you want to see contributed to rectify the years of wrongful power distribution?
The short answer: Reparations.
The long answer: Those in power should acknowledge how they have benefitted and continue to benefit from an infrastructure built on oppression before they can effectively implement the work. The belief that financial redistribution alone can dismantle anti-Blackness has been proven wrong. Restorative work is not an opportunity to rebrand without accountability.
If you could sit down and chat with any prominent Black figure, who would you choose?
I'm having a hard time choosing! It would have to be between Betty Davis, Lola Falana or Pearl Bailey.
What inspired you to create prints? Were you always involved in the arts?
I aspired for a space to be heard, and I grew up absorbing so many messages through advertising. Accompanying messages with a lens of nostalgia in advertisement felt like the natural medium to artfully disperse messages and ideas. I've been involved the arts for as long as I can remember. I participated in dance and theatre throughout my whole life. Outside of that, I currently work as an actress and writer in LA.
As a business mogul with an influential social media presence, what do you hope your followers take away from your art?
It's a hefty goal. However, I saturate viewers with intentional unambiguous imagery of Blackness adjacent to my personal experiences as a means to normalize and create validation for the range of experiences within Black identity—while rejecting the notion of being "othered."
Your work contains a variety of Black women ranging in different sizes and colors. How important is the representation of Black woman for you? Did you see a lot of Black representation in art growing up?
Representation is extremely important and intentional with anything I do. I don't desire to ever divorce my identity from the work I create. Growing up in the historically Black neighborhood of Third Ward in Houston, I was afforded the opportunity of being exposed to Black art at a young age. From the local art institutions such as the Project Row Houses to the Shrine of the Black Madonna, Black representation in art felt accessible in comparison to what I saw in mainstream media.
A lot of great artists come from Houston. Why do you think that is?
Houston/H-town/Space City is just that bitch.
Taking back power is a recurring theme in your artwork, how do you take back power in your everyday life?
I've found my own power in being assertive—whether it's addressing why I'm being profiled and followed in a store or holding the people in positions of power accountable for consistently exploiting the labor of Black women for diversity clout.
What does the future look like?
Black with a capital "B."