I feel like myself here. With the music blasting just enough to make me rock my shoulders, but not so loudly that I can’t hear my thoughts, I feel like myself here. In my hat and my leather jacket and barely brushed hair, I feel like I don’t have to explain who I am or smile too hard. I see familiar faces that warm me up and this place where I’ve never even stepped foot before suddenly feels like home.
That’s how I felt almost two Saturdays ago when I walked upstairs at Pyramid Atlantic and entered the world of Color Theory–a show curated by five local DMV artists. I came into that space and it immediately felt like home.
Because maybe that’s what artists are supposed to do. Broken down to its simplest common denominator, artists create the things that feel like home.
At least that’s what the five visual artists behind Color Theory did. Through their work and–later on during our conversations, their words–they bared parts of themselves and told parts of their stories. And, I saw myself on their canvases. I heard myself in the sentences they spoke. I felt the thumps of my heart in every stroke of their brushes.
Here are five pieces from the Color Theory art show that felt just like home and the short stories my heart told when she saw them.
Shawn Lindsay 16×20 oil on canvas, Wild Style | www.longlivepainta.com
I want to be this woman all of the time. This woman lives somewhere in between the swirls of the “free” tattoo etched on my side. This woman with her outstretched hips and half-dressed body is somewhere inside of me, but I’ve let the world tame her and shame her enough that she doesn’t get out much anymore. Even when she’s in the house alone, safe in the solitude of her own curves and careabouts, this woman inside of me just doesn’t get out much anymore. Maybe that’s why I haven’t stopped looking at this piece since I left the show almost two weeks ago. Every time I scroll through my iPhone, she catches my eye. I stop for awhile. She seduces me and I convince myself I have got to let this woman out from behind the curtains far more than I now do.
Michelle Izquierdo, “A Woman Is Art” | www.michelleizquierdo.com
I read the name of the piece before I absorbed it. And once I did, I wanted to climb inside Michelle’s mind and get answers to all of those inane questions like “What was your inspiration when you created this?” and “What parts of womanhood do all of the colors represent?” But, then I remembered the same thing I tell myself about writing–once the work leaves the artist, it’s up to the person on the other end to interpret. So, I drew inward. I told myself that the red petals are me on my fiery days and the pink petals are me on my fun-loving days and all of it is me every day–colorful, complex, beautiful, inexplicable in a mysterious, yet inviting way.
Will Watson “Untitled” | www.willwatsonart.com | @will_theartist
Many days we do want titles. We do not want labels. We do not want all of the identities and the gargantuan responsibilities that come along with them. I appreciate that this woman is untitled. I love that this woman does not have any sort of moniker that I can affix to her in hopes of making sense of who she is or how she came to be. I have a lot of titles on me right now, but as of late, it feels like so many of those titles clash and crash. It feels like I can’t reconcile who I am on one end of the spectrum with who I’m becoming on the other. Some days I want to be untitled. I want to be unable to fit into frames and uncooperative when people attempt to pencil me in on one line of their page.
Handirubvi Indigo Wakatama “Moyo Wangu” | http://cargocollective.com/handirubviwakatama | @handirubvi
Sometimes you fall for the art first, and other times you fall for the artist. So, when I asked Indigo what being an artist means to her and she unflinchingly told me it’s a lifestyle, I believe her. I looked at her, and I listened to her, and I believed this is a woman who gets it. I believed this is a woman who understands her work, worth, roots, and womanhood, and the delicate blend she stirs for all of these things to become her lifestyle. I returned to this piece after the interview and it took on new life and meaning. Sometimes the art helps us understand the artist. Other times the artist helps us understand the art.
Vanessa Smith “Blame Game” | www.vkpaints.com | @vkpaints
They put her in a place at the show called the vault–a smaller, quiet room offset from the buzz of the main show. When I saw her, I knew I wanted to take my time. I wanted to squint. Stare. Read. Digest. Summon the energy not to fight off my triggers like I often times do. When I saw her, I saw myself–inked in all caps, dressed in equal parts passion and pain. Yes, when I saw her, I saw myself–pushing the objects of her affection and angst to the backdrop while still attributing her scarlet letters to each of them. When I saw her, I saw myself, and somewhere in her bewildering maze and mess, she felt just like home.
Congratulations to the artists of Color Theory on an exceptional and resonant show. A huge thanks to Michelle Izquierdo for inviting me into your ever-evolving and amazing journey. Keep doing what you do, and I will keep doing my absolute best to be a part of it. Grateful to have one more dope woman artist who speaks my language and stays on my wavelength.