Tuesday, June 10, 2008
BGG Chats with Artist Tanekeya Word
Recently, I received an email from a young woman by the name of Tanekeya Word. She had come across BGG and wanted to share some of her work with me. After visiting her website, I quickly saw that she was a brilliant painter and overall highly creative individual. This D.C. resident and Howard University alumna has a beautiful body of artwork that exemplifies strength, femininity and fun! If you're in the NYC area, you can see her exhibit, Popping: The Rebirth of Fresh at Harriet's Alter Ego & Gallery today (last day). After falling in love with her eye-catching pieces, I wanted to share them with you.
Check out our Q&A:
BGG: When did you know that you wanted to become an artist?
Tanekeya: I was exposed to art at a very young age, my mother is an artist and she used to draw these lovely women as flowers and as soon as she drew me as a pink rose I was hooked!
BGG: What inspires your artwork?
TW: Life inspires my artwork! Fashion, women, the notion of what a woman is supposed to be, media, literature….I am drawn to the emotions of people and the labels projected on them.
BGG: Who are some of the artists you admired while growing up?
TW: My mother, then I fell in love with Ernie Barnes’ work and Annie Lee’s and Andy Warhol as well as Georges Seurat. Now, I am heavily hooked on Kehinde Wiley, R. Alexander Clark, Mickalene Thomas and Sylvia Ji just to name a few.
BGG: What words would you use to describe your paintings?
TW: Colorful, Fashionable, Couture, Contemporary, Figurative and Inspiring.
"Infamous" part of her Donne Di lusso collection.
BGG: Describe your painting process. How long does it take to complete a piece?
TW: It depends on the artistic technique: the pop art as seen in the “Donne Di lusso” series takes 10 + hours. I have to create the backgrounds then the foregrounds. The series emerged when I worked as an Art Coordinator for a graphic design company. I fell in love with the graphic designers’ work…the flatness of it. So I wondered if there could be a world where graphic design and fine art mixed and so I developed a process where my backgrounds have a flat graphic look and my foregrounds have a fine art process of texture and depth. My “Urban Pointillism” series as depicted in “Sol Lady: Sunrise” has an entirely different approach and it takes 100+ hours…80 hours on a smaller piece. I used a pointillist technique so everything is build from layers of dots. Most people look at them and cannot believe I would have so much patience and determination to finish it. Yet, I am very detailed oriented and I love every point.
BGG: What was the main inspiration behind your “Donne Di lusso” collection?
TW: Growing up there were so many labels put on me. Because I was a strong woman I had to be mean, because I knew what I wanted I was stuck-up, because I loved business I was trying to be in a man’s world. When all I wanted to do everyday was be me and give the world what God had put into my soul to do. I am a woman who does whatever I can to inspire, create and empower; thus, if I choose to be a powerhouse does it make me less of a woman? Can a woman have a voice and still be feminine? Can she cook, clean, have a business and still be seen as a good wife? Yes! I believe that women are multi-faceted and it is okay to straddle the lines of domesticity and patriarchy…we all need one another and if he can cook and I can fix the broken faucet; then as long as dinner is ready and the water is running we are a great team…(laughing)!
"Sol Lady: Sunrise"
BGG: Do you think having attended an HBCU (Howard University), played a major part in cultivating your style of artistry?
TW: Attending Howard was one of the most influential things in my life. Being exposed to the powerhouse nature of its student body and leadership of the faculty the atmosphere gave me a sense of readiness. I left Howard ready to take on the world and claim my spot because it was my right. As well, fashion and politics and business were the normal conversation. Like when there are 18-year-olds sitting down and discussing the stock market rocking the latest sneakers or bag. I realized that stereotypes or labels in general were ways to box others in and I wanted out of it; so, I created art to uplift the unseen.
BGG: I know that you’re an overall extremely creative young woman, what other activities do use as creative outlets?
TW: I just penned my first poetry book “Sugar In the Raw: A Love Saga” on sale at www.tanekeyaword.com Summer 2008 from my up-and-coming publishing company (website coming Summer 2008 www.icemediapress.com) I.C.E. Media Press (acronym stands for Inspire.Create.Empower), I am working on the business plan for my branding company in 2009, completing research for a huge art project about contemporary Urban women in the African Diaspora…this will be a project to remember. Also, I am attending graduate school at American University in the fall for Arts Management and always painting, reading, researching and writing while enjoying the now.
BGG: What are your goals as an artist?
TW: Simply to Inspire, Create, and Empower by sharing my gifts with the world. I believe that I am walking in my destiny and will become a renowned global artist amongst other things.
"Dimples-N-All" part of her Donne Di lusso collection.
BGG: What’s been the greatest advice you’ve been given in regard to being a young African-American female artist?
TW: “Pray, Push and Paint!” and “ See all obstacles as opportunities and keep the faith!”
BGG: What’s next for you?
TW: As the Duchess…I am here to claim my spot as Heiress of the art world; so, I am NEXT…(laughing)
Tanekeya will also have an exhibition the entire month of July entitled "Heir Royal Court: Introducing the Duchess" in Washington, DC. Prints are available for purchase online here.