Black Visual Artist Chat – Brittany Moore

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This week’s interview is with Brittany Moore. Brittany’s abstract art truly intrigued me with her lucid color schemes and shapes. Yet, even though it’s abstract, she doesn’t neglect featuring elements of the Black community. Her work puts you in a more blissful state of mind as well. Gain some more insight about Brittany and her craft in our discussion.

Me: Can you speak on the significance of using art as a form of activism?

Brittany: I think it’s important because art is able to reach different groups of people and it’s able to speak awareness to certain groups of people who I feel that wouldn’t even be aware or have exposure to whatever injustices that may be occurring. Art is also a documentation so that nobody can really look back at these times and say these types of injustices weren’t occurring because the art documents them.

“Art is also a documentation so that nobody can really look back at these times and say these types of injustices weren’t occurring because the art documents them.”

Me: Definitely. I think that’s a great perspective that you offered too of art being a documentation expressing what actually happened within a particular time-period especially with us as Black people. The thing I love about seeing your work is the fact that it expresses your core, your love for us and the bountifulness of our culture.

Brittany: Yup, you got to have that representation you feel me? I’m not sure about how much art that’s out here is geared towards us that’s not a depiction of celebrities. You have people who draw or paint celebrities but what about the abstract art? Is it still representational towards us? We need representation everywhere.

Me: Yea I can’t agree more, there’s never such a thing as having too much representation. You can never have enough positive images of us and our diverse voices within the Black community not just in the U.S. but across the globe.

Brittany: Right. And most of what’s available is propaganda.

Me: Exactly! Could you talk about any of your pieces that reflect the activism question?

Brittany: One piece I did do was an 8 by 10 which was basically the U.S. flag except for where the red usually is on the flag are spots of blood and then the blue part with the stars was abstract. I also put bars in front of it and I wrote the word VOID. That was one of the ones where I felt like I said what I had to say at that point. They want to speak of America as being home of the free and all of these different things, but that’s not true. People think they’re living the lives they’re supposed to, but it’s not what’s actually happening.

Me: Yea, I definitely feel you on that one. We live in a hypocritical society, it’s what this nation was built upon. The fact that they formed a constitution saying We the people, there was only a certain group of people they were talking about in regards to white supremacy and that whole propaganda to forge a new nation.

Brittany: The biggest thing I don’t understand is how in the world can KKK be allowed to be the KKK. Nobody can break that down and explain that to me in a way that I can be able to process it. There is no way possible that this group should be able to still exist. I actually know someone in Mississippi that was found hung with their hands tied and then they ruled it a suicide. This happened this past Memorial weekend.

Brittany: Other than that, I like to make the type of art where people can walk past in their house and smile because it lifts their spirits.

Me: Wow, I think I’ve heard about that too, it’s terrible. It’s definitely been too many incidents like that to count that you lose track. I do also like that your art has a vibrance and an air of positivity for our people and we do need those forms of art to encourage and uplift us as well within these dark times we live in. I appreciate that.

Brittany: I got to do that for the people! (laughing)

Me: (Laughing) Indeed. Describe your upbringing, where you’re originally from, your family background, and your education?

Brittany: I was born and raised in North Minneapolis. I grew up at this park called North Commons which is a block and a half away from my house so I used to be there everyday. That’s actually where I started painting except I wasn’t painting on canvas then, I was painting ceramic sculptures. I did that from second grade all the way up until eighth grade. It got to a point where I guess I was so good that my teacher actually would let me come in at times when other kids weren’t there. Sometimes it would be grown-up classes where I would just come in and do what I wanted to do. That’s basically where painting started.

“I grew up at this park called North Commons which is a block and a half away from my house so I used to be there everyday. That’s actually where I started painting except I wasn’t painting on canvas then, I was painting ceramic sculptures.”

Brittany: When I was in high school, I didn’t paint at all. Then, when I went to college, I started at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and I was working on doing classes to transfer over to Minneapolis College of Art and Design. When I took Painting I in college after not painting for many years, I didn’t like the class. When I did Painting II, I started to enjoy it. Once I got to Painting III I had already started selling paintings. It didn’t take me a long time to figure out that I should start selling them because I would always tell people that they should sell their art.

Brittany: So, when I thought that about my own stuff I immediately did that. Then, at the same time, I mass create so I have tons of my stuff which I need to sell. After I left MCTC I had went to Saint Paul College to pursue Sign Language. But, at this point I’m not even enrolled in school right now and I don’t think I’m going to re-enroll. I’m just going to freelance the Sign Language I was going to school for as well as my art. That’s basically where I’m headed. I don’t see college within my future unless it’s for something I know I can use the degree for. I’m not planning to be an employee.

“I’m not planning to be an employee.”

Me: Wow, I love that! That’s the type of ideology that we do need to have. I’m working on my own transition from that 9 to 5 life myself. Can you get more into your family background?

Brittany: On my Mom’s side I have three sisters and one brother and on my Dad’s side I have four sisters and two brothers. I grew up with my Mom, who was a single parent. I was always an outdoorsy type of kid, I always rode my bike and I’m the same way now. I rode my bike today actually and I’m outside a lot. I’ve always done a lot of different creative things.

Me: That’s cool! In regards to your creative approach, what types of mediums can you use and what do you prefer to use?

Brittany: I use all different types of mediums. What I use the most is acrylic paint for those that I sell. I’m also skilled in watercolor, chalk, and sharpie markers. The preferences differ based off what I’m looking for. It’s certain things I would do in watercolor that I wouldn’t necessarily do in acrylic and vise-versa. But, even though acrylic and watercolor differ, they can also be the same because you can water acrylic down to a point where you can treat it as watercolor. So, it’s a matter of what you do with it. I also do acrylic paintings on paper and clothing.

“What I use the most is acrylic paint for those that I sell. I’m also skilled in watercolor, chalk, and sharpie markers.”

Me: That’s too dope. You’re pretty versatile. Describe how you approach your creative process; what’s your ideal environment to bring out your full range of creativity?

Brittany: I approach my creative process by just letting whatever happens happen. I don’t like to feel stressed so I do everything with a certain level of calmness so I can be as peaceful as possible. When I don’t have any ideas in my head I don’t just not paint, I’m going to freestyle and create something.

Me: That’s cool, and do you also have your own studio within your house or a room that’s just dedicated to painting?

Brittany: Not necessarily, where I call my home I have my studio here. I just occupy the space and go from there.

Me: I feel you, it don’t matter how perfect it is, as long as you can get it in!

Brittany: (Laughing) Exactly. My ideal environment would be just a chill atmosphere. If I’m going to have noise then it’s going to come from my music, but if it’s not then I don’t really want to hear nothing. If I can get some sunlight then it’s cool. Even if it’s people around, if I already started doing something then I can’t be distracted at that point.

Me: Speaking of music, what you cranking on your playlist?

Brittany: I primarily listen to reggae. If you’re familiar with Damian Marley, he basically put me on to the whole art selling thing. I had ideas on my own but he actually has a song called Set Up Shop. Basically, that was the muscle behind me going for it.

“If you’re familiar with Damian Marley, he basically put me on to the whole art selling thing.”

Me: Wow, yea music is definitely powerful too!

Brittany: Definitely, and that’s what I’ve been trying to explain to people because they’re sitting here listening to all of this senseless music. You got to understand that even if you’re not consciously aware, you’re still being sent those messages.

“You got to understand that even if you’re not consciously aware, you’re still being sent those messages.”

Me: Yea, it’s a lot of subliminal messaging that this music conveys to us so we definitely have to be careful what we listen to especially the youth.

Brittany: The same way this music is acceptable is the same way KKK is allowed to be KKK today in 2017. You have to question, why is this mainstream? Why would they allow this to be mainstream?

Me: That’s the thing, the major radio stations and the record labels know the power that music has on people’s minds. That’s why they keep playing the same songs in rotation.

Brittany: And we’re not in control, we’re just the pawns in this.

Me: Exactly. If you could collaborate with any artist on an upcoming piece who would it be and why?

Brittany: I’ve never had personal thoughts where I thought, ‘hey I want to create this and I want such and such artist to be a part of this.’ But, I am definitely open to collaborations.

Me: Gotcha. Are you part of any artist groups or networks within Minneapolis?

Brittany: I’m not really a part of any specific groups but I do know black artists out here. I definitely have art of my own from a North Minneapolis artist Juan Reid (IG – @dre1one47). He’s a phenomenal artist, I definitely have four or five pieces from him. It’s another artist (IG – @artofmere_) and we share resources and information. I have about six of his pieces currently hanging up in my room. So, he’s one of my favorite artists, the way that he creates his art is really what blows my mind more than anything.

Me: He’s actually the very first artist I interviewed, he’s definitely incredible! That’s how I found out about you from @artofmere_. I was on his page one day and I saw him repost one of your pics on his page of you holding some of his artwork that you purchased. I was like, ‘she is so dope, I got to reach out to her.’

Brittany: That’s what’s up!

Me: What is the art culture like in Minneapolis? 

Brittany: Minneapolis and Minnesota in general, a lot of art events definitely occur. It’s this place that opened on the Northside of Minneapolis called New Rules and this is a facility that houses all of these different types of art events from fashion shows to producers showing their movies. People can rent the space out as well. I’ve attended multiple events there and it’s a great space especially for the Summertime. Other than that though, we have art festivals that go down in downtown and uptown Minneapolis. Those are poppin, but the thing about those is that they cost so much to get a booth. This is definitely an art city and state.

Me: Wow, interesting! On the East Coast we don’t really hear about what’s going on with y’all in the mid-west unless it’s in cities like Chicago.

Brittany: I got some art in New York, Pennsylvania, and even California too.

Me: That’s what’s up! Congratulations! How do you go about reaching out to people and selling your art in general? Do you go to shows or is it mostly via social media?

Brittany: I’ve never really reached out to anyone, the opportunities usually came to me. Someone usually asks me if I want to sell art at their event or things like that. When I do art shows, that’s when people ask me if I want to come to another event to sell my art. I want a team of people around me where they can help me find shows and other opportunities. There was this one opportunity where someone sent me to and I had to sign up for a table and paid 75 dollars for it. It was a two day event for about five or six hours a day. I ended up getting like 400 dollars for that event. I figure if I could manage about two or three of these a week then that’s solid for me (laughing). Another way that I reach people is through social media. I posted a painting of an octopus I did awhile back in one of the Minneapolis groups on Facebook and a female came across it. She ended up tagging her male friend in it, and he ended up wanting to purchase that piece. Before he came to pick up that piece, I had informed him that I had four other pieces. I sent him the photos and when he got here, he ended up purchasing all of the other four pieces too.

“I posted a painting I did of an octopus awhile back in one of the Minneapolis groups on Facebook and a female came across it. She ended up tagging her male friend in it, and he ended up wanting to purchase that piece.”

Me: Now that’s how you use social media, for real! (laughing) This is a great segway to the next question too. In your opinion, what do you think young Black visual artists can do to create more opportunities for themselves?

Brittany: As a young Black artist myself, I’m trying to create more opportunities as well. What has gotten me to the point where I am is by sharing on social media. We’re in a social media era and I think social media is definitely the number one step if you can’t do anything else. I don’t have a lot of other experiences but when I have my website then that’ll be more large scale. So, that’s what people should aim for selling on social media and getting a website.

Me: I agree, social media does play a pivotal role for Black artists because we have such a vast community who is active in social media especially the Facebook groups like Black Artists Connected and Black Art Experience.

Brittany: Definitely. Another thing that I’m starting to do more of now is taking pictures with my art and posting them on social media as well.

Me: Yea, you do that well! (laughing) I like your braids too.

Brittany: I braided my own hair in a natural style, anything that I do with my hair is natural. I got to represent for my people and show these children that there are natural ways you can style your hair because if someone doesn’t know what to do with their hair then that doesn’t really make them feel comfortable. Pretty soon all of the products that I use will be natural black-owned products period.

Me: That’s what’s up! I definitely feel you on that!

Brittany: Yea. At the end of the day though, it’s all bigger than that when you really think about these things. I’m a black business but I get my art supplies at Michael’s. This store is not a black-owned facility but most of my money goes there. So, it’s bigger than this, we need to own Michael’s craft stores because that’s the only way that dollar can go back to us. That’s another thing we got to be mindful of. We need to create these opportunities and we need these stores that we shop at the most to be black-owned if we’re really going to start to create revenue.

“That’s another thing we got to be mindful of. We need to create these opportunities and we need these stores that we shop at the most to be black-owned if we’re really going to start to create revenue.” 

Me: Wow, Brittany you just laid it on thick with those nuggets of wisdom right there! I haven’t come across any black-owned arts and crafts stores yet either.

Brittany: Nobody’s took it there, everybody ain’t at the same place mentally where they focus on the right things because they got their own agendas. It’s hard to get us to have a mutual agenda. The KKK they got a mutual agenda, we see their strength with all of these cops that are killing Black people and they don’t get convicted. The things that they bring to the forefront are the most ignored by the masses because they put these things on the news.

Me: That’s the truth, and that’s why it’s even more important that we have our own entities including media platforms.

Brittany: Exactly. First of all, the objective is not to be here. They’re polluting everything, the food is artificial and we have to be mindful of what they’re doing to the soil. We need to move around. Staying here is putting yourself more at risk. I’m not saying that everybody should jump around right now because you have to move at your own pace, but when you’re in a position to move you should. To put it simply, this is not our right environment in America. People aren’t really aware of the way that they’re living. It’s a complex situation that we’re in and it affects the psyche. The propaganda is layered on thick!

Me: I feel you. That’s why I’m trying to make a dent with this platform as well and make people aware of what’s really going on. When did you come into your own enlightenment?

Brittany: My broader awareness on life occurred mostly through music because I would listen to reggae and it would be a lot of messages there. I would hear certain messages and for me to be able to relate to those messages, I had to understand them. So, I had to study and I’ve got exposed to certain people like Marcus Garvey through music. I never heard about Marcus Garvey in school. It’s a lot of people that I learned about through reggae music.

“It’s a lot of people that I learned about through reggae music.”

Brittany: Bob Marley back in his time was speaking on what’s occurring now, so you know that the problems are deeply rooted, it’s evident. When you’re living a certain lifestyle, you don’t know what you don’t know. You have to get exposed to something to even be able to go in that different direction. From there, I had to educate myself on certain things to a point where I could develop a backbone. That’s another thing, you can not rely on this school system.

Me: Wow, that’s awesome sister! What’s your favorite piece you created?

Brittany: I created a lot of favorite pieces because it’s a lot of things that I do. I’ve never been the type of person to be strict on myself and just pick one. I don’t really even have names for my pieces, the only ones that do are the ones that flow naturally because I’m not a forceful being. I feel like for me to name any of my pieces that do not come naturally to me, then I can’t force a name upon it. But, I do understand the importance of having names when I get my website then I’ll do it in efforts to market myself.

“I feel like for me to name any of my pieces that do not come naturally to me, then I can’t force a name upon it.” 

Me: Gotcha. Are there any other artists in your family?

Brittany: Well, my little sister on my Dad’s side can draw really good and I tried to convince her to start something for herself.

Me: That’s great that you encourage her to actually start her own thing and profit off of her passion. Going back to your art business, what has been some of the most challenging things you’ve dealt with?

Brittany: Exposure and having customers is not consistently enough for my comfortability. But when it comes in, it comes in good so that’s how I know if I had a marketing team or those types of things then I’d be okay. I’m trying to get to the point where I can have at least 50 people come to a show anywhere because they know me and they know my art is affordable.

Me: I feel you. Marketing is definitely a major element to running any type of business but I think as creatives we lose sight of that aspect. What was the most challenging piece you’ve done so far?

Brittany: The most challenging piece that I’ve done was an abstract family portrait. That was challenging because they told me what I needed to create and I’m not used to that, I’m used to creating whatever I want to create. I couldn’t have the artistic freedom that I usually have.

Me: I understand where you’re coming from. Describe a time when you experienced a creative block, and how did you overcome it?

Brittany: I do experience creative blocks but a creative block doesn’t mean that I’m not cranking paintings out. If I have one then I’ll just start creating anything, I move around. Whether I have a creative block or not, I’m going to do something.

“Whether I have a creative block or not, I’m going to do something.”

Me: That’s good, you don’t let it stop you from creating anything at all.

Brittany: It ain’t controlling no move over here, I tell you that! People got to understand their power. You can’t always be in control of something. When I create I’m not necessarily in control, I’m just doing random shit until I come up with something. The fact that I’m not in control doesn’t put fear in me. A lot of people got to have so much control. A lot of realistic artists like to have control but with abstract art, there ain’t no rules. I set whatever rule I want to set. You can’t tell me I’m not doing what I am and that’s what I like about it.

Me: That’s an interesting perspective you mentioned. To tell you the truth, I’m not really an abstract art type of dude but looking at your work, I’m like, ‘wow, I definitely like the vibe it gives off.’

Brittany: That’s what I go for, that impact. I feel like my art definitely has a vibe that promotes happiness. Art is color, color is nature, and nature is life.

“Art is color, color is nature, and nature is life.”

Me: Wow, Brittany dropping some gems! Whenever I can get some type of wisdom that can fill me and build me up then I’m all for it.

Brittany: As am I. I recommend you read this book of poems called, For the Love of the Black Man. I think every black man and boy should own a copy of it.

Me: I definitely appreciate that and what other books do you recommend that have helped you in becoming more enlightened?

Brittany: I just read a book called Breaking the Chains of Psychological Slavery and I also recommend an author – Dick Gregory. It’s definitely a process though, it’s so much that needs to occur but you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. It’s similar to my transition in life right now where I stopped eating meat recently because that’s what I can do now. I wanted to drop eggs, and dairy too, but I’m not going to get overwhelmed by trying to do everything at once.

Me: You’re right, it’s definitely a process, and you want to take baby steps, you’re not going to learn everything overnight. How has your artwork shaped you as a person?

Brittany: I don’t necessarily know how my artwork shaped me because the artwork didn’t come before me. The artwork manifested from my being. I know that I put my being into my art and I know can’t nobody look at my work and say “oh, I’ve seen this before.”

“I don’t necessarily know how my artwork shaped me because the artwork didn’t come before me. The artwork manifested from my being.”

Me: When you mentioned it like that you made me look at my own question in a different light, I love that perspective though. We gonna rock with that (laughing)! What was your most proud achievement?

Brittany: I was on Fox 9 News and that made me proud because a lot of people watch Fox 9 News. They featured my art on there too.

Me: That’s what’s up! Would you like to share any upcoming projects/exhibitions?

Brittany: I think I’m going to be a part of FLOW Northside Arts Crawl this year. I believe that I have a slot, but I’m not completely sure yet because I’m still waiting for it to be finalized. Other than that, I don’t have anything coming up yet.

Me: Cool. What’s your vision for the future?

Brittany: I want to do home decor like shower curtains, cups, plates, and blankets. I also want my art to be in movies, tv shows, and music videos. Home decor is something that I’d definitely want to do soon though because I personally think it would be a huge hit.

“I want to do home decor like shower curtains, cups, plates, and blankets.”

Me: I can definitely see your art fitting within that space.

Brittany: I want to be linked to some type of interior designer to the point where they can use my art for countertops and different furniture around the home. Art is more than just what’s on canvas, maybe you want some chairs that pop because everybody’s not going to hang a painting in their home. I’m trying to reach the masses and do great things one step at a time.

Me: Indeed. I love that. Well, Brittany I really appreciate you for doing the interview with me, it’s all about that black unity, without y’all this blog wouldn’t exist.

Brittany: The same way you need me, I need you as well. We need that village aspect in life.

To purchase and inquire about Brittany’s artwork please contact her via email: brittanymooreart@gmail.com or IG: @artbybrittanym.

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