First Blog & First Interview with our series Behind The Brush!
We're excited about reopening our site with a new blog series. In doing so, we wanted to make sure we showcased women artist, specifically women of color, who not only created unique masterpieces but are carving a name for themselves in a very populous art district, Metro Atlanta, GA.
We came across Kelly's art through Instagram and we immediately fell in love with her bold colors and usage of standout content.
Check out her story below:
[Destiny]: We are happy that you took the time to do this interview with us Kelly, first off of course, how did you get started? What is your background?
[Kelly]: I gravitated towards arts, crafts, and theatre at an early age. A bit shy and socially awkward, my alone time became my sacred space to explore. Aside from middle school and high school art curriculum, which peeked my interest, I taught myself how to draw. My mother encouraged my passion by applying me for art camps during the summer so I could sharpen my skills. I caught on pretty quickly and looked forward to exploring my imagination as often as I could. But it wasn’t until I starting painting canvases a couple of years ago, that I accepted that I had something special.
[D]: So it seems like you have always had a passion for creative outlets, how did you hone in your style? What does your art aim to say?
[K]: Sacred geometry is incorporated in a lot of my art work. The shapes are sharp and very challenging. The colors are bold, and connects me to the spirit within that unites us all. Everyone, regardless of your past or present circumstances, has a unique purpose and my goal is to encourage people to enjoy the beauty of the present moment. I celebrate individuality, curiosity, and self love. Often times we are influenced to be so critical of others and ourselves, but that takes away the true essence of who we are. Positive energy attracts positive energy, so I like to paint images that challenge your understanding and sooth your soul.
[D]: I feel you, influence, especially in the days of social media can build or tear a person down. With that being said, who are some of your biggest influences?
[K]: There is not just one person in particular that inspires me but, but the beauty of black culture lifts my spirit like nothing else. When we join together in harmony the energy is very powerful. It’s warm, inviting, healing and contagious to whoever is near. As an artist I believe we have the responsibility to paint from our perspective, not only for ourselves but for the greater good of world around us. There may be some stigma around the term “black artist”, but I don’t care. I’m black, proud, and will continue to uplift my people.
My dreams have always been supported by my family, who is hardworking and full of life. They are educated, compassionate and have overcome so many obstacles. I’m so grateful for their guidance. From my theatre performances in high school to my art shows today, they have always been a safety net to my wild streak. It’s in my DNA to be great, the persistence fused with patience and intellect of my loved ones has inspired me to keep moving.
[D]: "Paint from our perspective" I love that, perspective is everything and everyone has a story. I admire your ability to push yourself and stay persistent, especially in a city like Atlanta. Being an artist here how does that influence your work?
[K]: Wow. I love Atlanta. Atlanta is a melting pot of awesomeness. There is an opportunity for creatives to grow and network around each corner. Museums, open mics, restaurants, nightclubs, poetry slams, and arts shows every week! Not to mention the birthplace of some of this nations first HBCU’s, our city is bustling with people of color who are innovative and establishing quite a name for ourselves. This community of intellectuals are hustlers, creating rich and authentic content, who show up ready for each opportunity. Atlanta is like one big family reunion, I always run into familiar faces on a similar mission. We aim to raise the consciousness of our people and establish spaces where creativity is and encouraged.
[D]: You never lied! Intellectual hustlers brought a lot of people to mind for me (lol). Atlanta is a big small city, I like to call it. Now as a growing artist I know there maybe some hurdles/obstacles you have faced, would you mind sharing?
[K]: [No problem] My mind is my greatest gift and hardest hurdle. In 2012 I left Kennesaw State University and was admitted into a psychiatric hospital for two weeks where I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Schizophrenia. Mental illness can disrupt your life and keep you stagnant as you fall deeper and deeper into darkness. My depression has drove me to isolation, self doubt about my work and sometimes causes me to procrastinate on my goals. It’s truly an everyday battle, to be hyper sensitive and mentally unstable trying your hardest to find balance. Art saved my life. Art saved my mind.
[D]: How you overcome these obstacles?
[K]: I get up and face myself everyday. For a long time I placed my happiness in the hands of others, suppressed my emotions until they exploded, or I ran away from the issues that were to hard to face. I overcome by taking responsibility for my life and challenging myself to push through the anxiety. Even when negative thoughts surface my paintbrush is moving and the spirit of God is always with me. When in the past, the depression was so crippling I didn’t even have the energy to make it out of bed, I can now take the necessary steps to keep my mental health in check.
Meditation, prayer, journaling, yoga has helped to keep me focused on the journey that God/The Universe/ My ancestors have mapped out for me. I’m so grateful for my gifts, I’m not sure where I would be without them.
[D]: Thank you for transparency and honesty. Sometimes we don't know what our story may do for other people out there, especially dealing with mental health. We tend to only see the wins and not the losses, what advice do you have for aspiring artists?
[K]: Create from your heart. Create what ever you want. Don’t worry about the likes on social media or if your not receiving the love that you feel you deserve. The amount of people who gravitate towards your art has nothing to do with your worth as an individual. You are loved. You are powerful. You are protected. Be courageous, step outside of the box, your break through is waiting for you outside of your comfort zone. When you get stuck and your not sure what to create next, try drawing animals or the closest thing you can get your hands on. Make up your own characters, stop drawing cartoons that have already been created. Put something original out into the world. Share your gifts. What’s most important is that you keep moving.
[D]: Keep moving! Sometimes that's hard for me. Including self-doubt. The mind is a powerful tool like you said. If only we could go back in time, to tell our younger selves it would get better in our darker days. What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?
[K]: The most important tool that you can possess is patience. You can not figure out everything at once, just start with the next possible step. Just because they are wild and free does not mean that they are pushing you forward to become your greatest version. Value your time, energy goes where your attention flows. You have so much much in store for you. That greatness on your shoulders, those blessings that keep happening in your favor are messages from God. You are not alone. There are so many people who feel the same way that you do, who love from a genuine place in their hearts, and will teach you valuable lessons about life.
[D]: Again I thank you for pushing and persisting so we may enjoy your mind's creations. Can't wait to get your artwork up in our future space and collaborate as well.
You can find Kelly on Instagram @kelly_freespirit_21