During the last couple of months, I have conducted research on the self-image and self-definition the identity of young African American women. Much of the literature review and expert interviews led to conversations which were challenging to grasp. Just understanding the reality of the adversities that come along with the intersectionality of being an African American woman in the U.S. was disheartening. However, the research did not end on a sad note.
What I realized is that young African American women see the importance of self-love. The group in my case study had begun to practice self-love and a freedom of expression which may initially sound rudimentary, yet is so complex and necessary to the collective progression. The majority of participants agreed that the thing they wanted most was to be free from expectations on who they should portray, what they should say, and what they should do as African American women.
With this in mind, I am continuing with this research into an artist project. For my second undergraduate capstone, I am creating a show through paintings which address the issues mentioned above. I have planned three large scale nude self-portraits in an attempt to humanize African American women through my own personal experiences. I am in the process of releasing myself from pre-prescribed labels and expectations. I am excited to keep you all updated with this process. The show will be exhibited on the 13th of April.
You can follow the experience in real time via Instagram: cayla_jae. I will be posting sketches soon and process shots throughout the next couple of months.
I have spent weeks trying to find the words and the perfect quote to express this thought. What I have now realized is that it does not have to be ingenious or flawlessly crafted. What I want to say is that I am transitioning.
For years, I have created work that I felt others wanted to see. I have painted, drawn, and written narratives that we not of my true nature, voice, nor intentions. Therefore, following my explorations aboard through the landscapes of Ireland and then nationally within the suburbs of Orlando, Florida, I have reached a period which I consider the eye of the storm.
I am currently doing research, along with person soul searching, in order to properly articulate my narrative. For this reason, I have not and will not be posting as often as I have in the past; however, this Winter you can expect sneak peeks of my first exhibition. I am excited about this for many reasons, but I am most excited to be able to sincerely share myself with you.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
― Thomas Merton
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.
“Now that he was safe from the world outside he was being attacked from within his own head.” – Cal by Bernard Maclaverty, p.106.
The art process is very vulnerable and uncertain. Much of the time that I spend working alone is filled with doubts and negativity from my mind. Art involves so much self criticism that one become less bothered by others expectations. One of the things my professor tells students is to not forget what you do well. As a group, we spend more time attempting to perfect that which is already perfect. Let your mind rest and enjoy your days.
This month, I’ve been traveling along the coasts in Ireland. In learning about the culture and history of this country, I’ve realized that the world and stories of the dead never leave new generations. Every generation reforms the traditions of the past and it is only through understanding that history that we are able to take full advantage of the present. #irishturtle
Today, I was completing a reading (The Secret History by D. Tartt) given to me by one of my closet professors. The most recent section reminded me about our relationship to ourselves: strongly referencing this idea of mindfulness. You will find that you spend a lot of time contemplating or in conversation with yourself. Some people might find this annoying, but I think it’s worth while to build a strong relationship with the only person who can truly know and understand how you feel and what you mean. Spend some time with yourself today!
“Scare the World: Be Exactly Who You Say You Are and Tell the Truth.” -Found on 2wentysixletters.tumblr.com
One of the most frightening things a person can do is find themselves and their voice and be unapologetic about it. When you discover who you are and what it means to you to be that person, you will find a sense of relief and comfort. What’s more, you will discover the power you have in being comfortable in your own skin and will refuse to accommodate for the entertainment of others. I think this concept is the most fearless of quotes that I can present you with, because believe it or not, knowing yourself and your truth is the biggest threat that you could pose to the world. And honestly, I think we could use a little bit more of that.
“You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.” — Henri-Frédéric Amiel
It is no secret: Life is hard and it is not fair. This quote may seem a little pessimistic, but its statement still rings true. Our lives are consumed with this idea of suffering. From the very start of our existence, we fight the odds and choose life. People find ways to meet their basic needs as best they can and, in the face of misfortunate events, attempt to make the best of what they have. In living an artful life, one must “make use of suffering,” in that they make the choice to smile and persevere. Life is hard and it is not fair, but you have free will to arrange the cards you are dealt with.
I’m not a painter because I like to paint. I’m not an artist because I love art pieces. I am an artist of various mediums because I like to learn, teach, observe, and communicate. When completing art, I learn about everything from how to mix paint from scratch to the construction of the human anatomy and the history of religious imagery to the importance of the direction of light. I am able to teach others about a new view point of the world while introducing color theory and composition. I feel at peace because of observation not because of the art. It’s widely mistaken that creating art is a peaceful task; however, it is the act of taking the time to closely analyze subject matter or allowing the hand to guide your work that is peace. And yet, at the core to all of this is communication: whether it be a mood or a movement, I hope to give a new experience or thought to someone. I don’t enjoy the ache and pain of being an artist, but I do enjoy the little moments in between when it’s just me, a blank surface, and time. It’s kind of like life: no one goes through it for the obstacles, just the little moments of bless, lessons, conversations, and observations.
“Be so busy improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.”- ThinkGrowProsper
This quote spoke to me because I am guilty of comparing myself to others. In an attempt to make myself feel better, I resort to pulling others and their achievements down. This unhealthy method of criticism only hurts me in the process, while also leaving out the most important component. If I want to feel better about myself, then I need to work on myself. Not saying that anything needs to be “fixed,” but there is always room for improvement. If you don’t like something, change it!
I encourage you all to focus more on yourself and how to convert your weaknesses into strengths. But above all, I wish for you to love yourself unconditionally for all of your flaws and strengths. Be the best version of you that only you can be.