Where are you from?
I was born in 1989 in Denver, Colorado. Most of my family is still in Denver — my twin brother, my mother, father, and nephew are there. I also have an older brother based in Arizona with his wife and two sons.
I never realized how much I would miss it until I left. It was really special growing up in a city with such close access to nature. One of my favorite things to do was to lay on a blanket in the front yard and watch the clouds go by. I have always been a dreamer, and Denver was a city that really gave me the space and natural wonder to do that.
When were you first exposed to the arts?
Art has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up in a home that hadRomare Bearden, Hale Woodruff, Faith Ringgold, Charles White, and Jacob Lawrence on the walls. My grandmother was on the board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, and Dance Theatre of Harlem here in New York.
I also took a few classes at the local Art Students League. I was always making something and/or trying to realistically draw photos I’d find. Art was just there. It was hard for me to not notice or be inspired by the images and people that were around me. And my parents valued the things I would create; both of them have my artwork that spans my lifetime on their walls.
So is that when you decided to become an artist?
No. For a long time, I had decided that art was not going to make a living for me. That I needed something more practical. I originally wanted to go to an HBCU [historically black college or university] like Spelman, but I ended up attending Agnes Scott, a small, diverse women’s liberal arts college also in Georgia.
I went abroad my junior year to Cortona, Italy, and that changed everything for me. I took my first oil painting class, and I fell in love. I literally remember thinking, “I could do this forever. This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.” My senior year, I changed my major to studio art, but the school had no support system for oil painting, so I spent the year trying to teach myself how to paint in the school basement.