Where have you found inspiration? It’s the mask for me. I’ve found inspiration in the swift evolution of the mask during this time. Some people, including myself, have gotten really creative and fashionable with our masks. It’s interesting because what I was working on prior to the lockdown is very relevant to some of the horrible biases and injustices that exist and that have happened recently and for many years. However, I found myself putting that work aside and focusing on portraits that include the protective masks depicting provocative messages such as “I Can’t Breathe,” “Black Lives Matter” and “Vote.” The masks and the text are an interesting combination. The mask essentially muffles the speech when worn. But the text on the mask is front and center for all to see, and it speaks loud and clear, thus reinstating the voice of the person wearing it. So, texts on masks have been a source of inspiration for me during most of the quarantine.
What have you learned about yourself as an artist? I’m naturally shy and have often kept quiet when I had something to say, but over the years, I’ve learned that expressing my thoughts and ideas are a must. They count. Even if I say them out loud and no one is in the room to hear them, they are worthy of my voice, so I’ve made that a part of my practice. I’ve also learned to better manage the anxiety I often feel before starting a painting. A blank surface can be a little scary, but it’s a failure if it remains blank. So, the idea is to just start.
How have national or global events over the past few months impacted your art? Most of my work has remained consistent with my art practice prior to some of these unfortunate events, but there are some additional layers to the discourse of the work informed by events like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders and COVID-19 that add to how I talk about the work.
When you’re feeling unmotivated or uncreative, what do you do? I continue to work in those moments. Sometimes, it’s just good to do something just for fun, with no real theme or purpose in mind. I love working on my technical skills as a painter, so it’s a joy for me to paint a lemon really well, focusing on hues and values with a light source. I also enjoy the practice of mixing paint.