Photograph: Dejah Greene

Photograph: Dejah Greene

Artist Statement

I was a student pursuing graphic design who happened to fall in love with painting. I was a graphic designer, painter, and empath; who realized she could not overlook her thirst to positively impact the well-being of individuals and communities. Integrating these passions, I earned a dual degree in Visual Arts/Design and Social Work. Over the years, I have been learning how to intertwine all the things I love.

Today, I fuse a variety of mediums—graphic design, textiles, digital collage, painting, printmaking, and photography—and employ vibrant colors, intricate textures, patterns, and bold typography. I am embracing and exploring the ways in which these unique elements hold a special purpose and can create beautiful conversations. My passion lies in the process, and I am always digging deeper. I enjoy immersing myself fully in each step of the journey—whether it is in hand-dying, printing, and sewing fabrics, checking out a dozen books on the subject being explored, or infusing my work with my personal vulnerabilities.

The turning point in my art came in 2013, with the passing of my grandmother. Her love and admiration for beautiful quilts and patterns moved me to incorporate my past childhood love of sewing and fabric work into my present endeavors. Embracing a different medium and revisiting my past creative freedom helped me to create new works and establish a better sense of my identity as an artist. Although I had always been enthusiastic about the study of art therapy, it was at this point that I experienced firsthand just how valuable and therapeutic art-making can be.

It was also during this time that I began to really grasp how to communicate effectively and express experiences and ideas on my own terms, rather than trying to fit into some traditional mold that was not representative of who I am. I developed my artistic voice and truly came into my own. Self-concept is my power source. My creative practice runs deep and concurrently with my personal and spiritual growth. I use art as a means to explore and manifest my awareness of self and the world around me. By practicing vulnerability, self-love, and empathy—I hope to inspire the same in others.

The issues dearest to my heart revolve around self-esteem, body image, mental health, suicide prevention, youth, women empowerment, and the black experience. All in all, I want to give my viewers a sense of joy, healing, and a reminder of how to love—themselves and the lives and world around them.

As my work evolves, it is becoming more conceptual, intimate, and fearless. In pursuing the fields of art, design, and social work—my greatest passions—I have discovered how they intersect, the possibilities that they hold, and how to bring them together and unleash their power.


“THREAT”
Series 1 of 3
Mixed Media on Canvas

The THREAT series (2014-2015) began its creation in August of 2014. The series was a direct response to the array of emotions I was experiencing following the murder of a 18 year-old black man named Michael Brown on August 9, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was fatally shot, while unarmed, by a white Ferguson police officer. This series was inspired by the beauty and power of black people in contrast to the brutal black experience in America.


"QUOTES FROM CARTER" 
Series 1 of 3
Graphic Design 

Series of typographic posters paying homage to an influential mentor of mine. Quotes from Carter is a series of quotes by the director of the visual arts program at NCA&T State University, Roymieco Carter. These quotes were pulled from notes taken during my college years. His teachings helped shape my understanding and mindset of what it means to pursue a career in art and design.


"LOVE: INWARD/OUTWARD" 
Mixed Media on Canvas 

I was inspired by the beautiful circular movement of a dancer's flowing skirt, the expression it holds, and the theme of love. This piece began with research inside Rio Carnaval. It really gave me the behind the scenes look at the process of Carnaval for different communities; from the competitiveness and finance stress to the designing of floats, props, costumes, and coming up with a theme. The process is what intrigued me. My theme is love. Love has a story. It comes in different colors, purposes, magnitude, and impact. It's the relationship we have with our friends, family, artistry, significant other, complete strangers or something as simple as the nature that surrounds us. It's a lifelong journey of experiences, growth, and perspective; beginning inward with ourselves as the root.


"STREET SOUL"  
Installation (2016) 

The mobile exhibit, Street Soul: The Human Side of Homelessness, is the result of an intensive collaboration between vendors at Street Sense who have experienced homelessness first-hand and visual artists at The Sanctuaries. Housed within the traveling I Have a Home Here gallery space — reminiscent of the unstable, constantly-in-motion nature of homelessness — the exhibit weaves the stories of homelessness into visuals of loss, chaos, anxiety, trauma, distrust, waiting, and the ever-present threads of hope. Through this exhibit, which was divided into sections, we invited viewers to develop a deeper understanding of what it means to be homeless in this city and present concrete ways for you to help end homelessness in DC.

Section 5: Sanctuary, space for reflection

The final space that was a solo venture of my own is inspired by moments when we're most in touch with our humanity, thoughts, and compassion. It’s the silver lining that always exists. The hope and peace we must hold on to and cultivate. This space is about presence. In times of awareness and injustice, we must follow up with action. We have taken you through the human side of homelessness—the thoughts, challenges, experiences, and trauma. We must use that emotion and understanding as fuel. This space is for taking action. How do we make an impactful difference in the lives of others so they too, can turn their dreams into reality? The Take Action booklet outline ways to stop homelessness in Washington, DC.


"DIVISION: SKIN COMPLEX"
Mixed Media on Canvas

This piece was inspired by daily observations and frustrations. From being overwhelmed with constant social media posts that promoted the division among African Americans to walking across the campus of my historically black university and listening to the perpetuation of light-skin versus dark-skin stereotypes. This piece speaks to the essentiality of unity in the diverse and beautiful black population.