Have you ever started a new project with an idea, created a plan, and then prematurely snowballed in existence? Well for me, this is a first! I’m normally the planner, strategizing every step to yield the best results. But this has been a new experience and blessing in disguise. Some things actually do work better as you go without the perfect structure or design – it’s organic (my favorite word!).
Let's backtrack for a second. Recently, I started applying to open calls for exhibits, proposals, and galleries again. One open call, in particular, caught my attention. It was catered towards women that were interested in creativley expanding with other women artists. Essentially, building a community amongst women artists was the core of the organization and exhibit. I thought, “This is amazing! This is something I’d love to be a part of.” I gathered a few of my best pieces, along with my artist resume and bio, and submitted to the call.
Fast-forward a few weeks later, I found out that I wasn’t selected as a participant in the exhibit, which was completely fine. You win some you lose some. I recognize that not getting chosen for a gallery, exhibit, or event is not a reflection of my talent or the quality of my work, but the theme or aesthetics that the organizers and/or curators desire. When I checked back to view the exhibit roster, I noticed very few of the painters looked like me. Not shocking, but always a little disheartening since this is a common notion that I've experienced and grown accustomed to.
I’ve observed that some galleries have a certain ‘look.’ If the artist and/or their art does not compliment the interior, no matter how much the gallery pushes for original work and fresh ideas, there’s a strong chance of being overlooked. I don’t see it as a bad thing, more of a ‘get in where you fit in’ type of exchange. I honestly believe there’s a time and place for everything; you know, a niche. The deeper I dive into my art and entrepreneurial journey as a black woman painter, the rarer it is to find artists or stakeholders that look like me. Even when I think of ‘black art,’ mostly male artists come to mind. It seems like there are fewer visible female artists but I know that isn't the case. I wont accept that, haha.
So on Labor Day, September 4, 2017, as a sat in my bed binge watching Issa Rae's Insecure (great series), I realized that it doesn’t have to be that way. Stepping out of your comfort zone is one thing, but having a safe space is another and also equally important. I figured instead of waiting for someone to accept me into their circle or fill a void, I’m going to do something about it. I’m going to create my own safe space, specifically catered to women who look like me while being open to all.
To keep it short and sweet, I settled on the name BLACK GIRLS WHO PAINT (yep, all caps because I want this project to be loud and proud lol).
As I was planning the logistics (mission, marketing, launch date, etc.), I figured I’d see if the name was available to use. Once it was, I immediately created the account to take it off the market, seemingly forgoing the additional details for a later time. Literally, 10 seconds later I received a text that read, “blackgirlswhopaint?” I. WAS. PISSED (haha)! How did he know? Who else knows? How did this happen? I didn't even have the logo prepared. Evidently, a notification was sent to everyone in my phone's contacts that also has an Instagram account - “Your friend Sasha is on Instagram as blackgirlswhopaint.” ...The nerve lol. In terms of project management, deviating from the timeline, especially when the planning/logistics stage isn’t complete, is a big no-no for me! I guess I have a thing with control and perfection. But when unforeseen circumstances are completely out of your hands, you just have to let it go and roll with the punches. If it’s organic, manifested, and truly well-intended, it will all work out in the end. So be it; she is here and the work starts now. And just to note, BLACK GIRLS WHO PAINT was inadvertently born on Beyoncé's birthday as a result. I'm thinking that's a good start (lol)!
This is somewhat new territory for me, as I have dealt more with branding myself, as an artist and business, as opposed to branding a movement. Luckily, representation and community has always been very important for me. I have wanted this space in my life for the longest time, but never thought, “Why don’t I just create it? Start the conversation and let the community cultivate itself.” Within the first 48 hours, I have received much love and support from fellow black girls who paint. That’s when I realized this was much bigger than me - this space was missing and needed by others too. We have the talent and we can expand our voice and visibility. I’m excited!
So unless Instagram has already informed you (strong side eye), this is the official launch of BLACK GIRLS WHO PAINT, a brand formed to promote community among black women who share the love of painting, both traditionally and non-traditionally. Not only will the versatility of our art be showcased through weekly themes, but meaningful conversations and relationships with other black woman painters will be sparked, as well, not just limited to social media. This will be a platform for overall support, empowerment, and positivity as we navigate through the art world amongst our daily activities. I'm speaking it into existence but also need your help. Please spread the word (share and repost), give some dope feedback below, and most definitely, STAY TUNED!
(click the logo)
*This will be one of the few times I will speak as the creator of BLACK GIRLS WHO PAINT, as I want to share the background story and brief context of this project. For the purpose of BLACK GIRLS WHO PAINT, I will be on the backend promoting community and not myself.