Grace in Her Space
An Interview with Theresa Chromati
Grace in Her Space is a captivating exploration of art, identity, and community, as seen through the extraordinary works of Brooklyn artist Theresa Chromati. Her paintings transcend conventional boundaries, celebrating the beauty and resilience of black women and highlighting the power of togetherness. In this interview, Chromati shares insights into her artistic process, the inspiration behind her work, and the profound impact of her personal experiences.
Discovering Mediums and Embracing Textures
Painting and Collage: An Expressive Fusion
Theresa Chromati’s artistic journey revolves primarily around painting and collage, with a strong focus on acrylic paint as her medium of choice. However, she continuously pushes the boundaries by incorporating various elements such as glitter, vinyl plastics, silk fabric, cotton, bandanas, and now wood. Chromati’s keen interest lies in texture, as she believes it adds depth and complexity to her pieces. By working with a diverse range of materials, she creates multi-dimensional artworks that engage the senses.
Chromati recently embarked on a captivating series exploring the lives of people who spend long hours sitting on stoops, capturing nostalgic moments reminiscent of her childhood. From the simple act of eating sunflower seeds to a young woman descending stoop steps hand-in-hand with a boy while her mother watches from the doorway, these paintings evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia. Significantly, this series incorporates wood as the canvas, taking the form of uniquely shaped house-like structures that further enhance the narrative.
The Fascination with Glitter
One cannot help but notice the recurring presence of glitter in Chromati’s artwork. It serves as a symbolic representation of beauty and confidence among black women, shining a light on their resilience and strength. The reflective qualities of glitter juxtapose against matte surfaces, creating a visually captivating and three-dimensional effect. Chromati aims to make her artworks come alive, giving them a cinematic quality that truly captivates the viewer.
The Symbolism of Silk Fabric
Silk, a delicate and high-quality fabric, plays a significant role in Chromati’s recent works. The vibrant yellow silk she incorporates represents positivity and brightness. Through the use of silk, Chromati aims to accentuate the qualities of resilience and strength that black women embody. With every brushstroke, she emphasizes the beauty and confidence present within female bonds.
Exploring the Essence of Home
Inspired by Baltimore: A Hometown Reflection
Chromati’s upcoming solo exhibition in her hometown of Baltimore, at School 33, draws inspiration from her personal memories and the imaginative narratives she has crafted. The exhibition is an homage to home, exploring the moments and experiences that shaped her. To delve deeper into the essence of Baltimore, Chromati conducts thorough research, utilizing Google Maps to immerse herself in the cityscape and capture its vibrant energy. The resulting artwork reflects the rich emotional tapestry of her experiences in Baltimore.
The Influence of Baltimore’s Community
While Chromati’s art draws inspiration from the nostalgia and specific culture of Baltimore, it transcends geographic boundaries. Her primary focus lies in celebrating partnerships among women and exploring body language influenced by the women she grew up withâ€”her mother, aunt, and the women of her neighborhood. These significant figures have shaped her perception of the ideal womanhood. Although she creates an alternate dimension within her artwork, elements reflecting the specific patterns and structures found in Baltimore’s communities emerge organically. Chromati’s work captures the emotions and structures endemic to her upbringing, resulting in powerful and evocative compositions.
A Journey Across Mediums and Disciplines
The Fusion of Design and Illustration
Chromati possesses a rich background in design and illustration, a discipline that greatly influences her artistic practice. While pursuing her undergraduate studies in graphic design, she yearned for more creative challenges, leading her to collaborate with peers who required illustrations. This collaboration exposed her to a wider audience and established her as a visual artist. Her experience designing and creating artwork for music festivals and events, such as Kahlon, further propelled her artistic journey.
The Private Evolution of Characters
Chromati’s artistic evolution has been greatly influenced by the exploration and development of her unique characters. Since the age of 18, she has crafted characters that represent diverse facets of her imagination and personal experiences. One such character, a woman with arms but no legs who walks on her arms, has become increasingly pivotal in her recent works. The artist attributes her decision to showcase this character more prominently to its ability to portray diversity within black womanhood. Chromati embraces the unconventional and invites viewers to appreciate the beauty found within the complexities of her subjects.
Symbolic Elements: Masks and Armor
The recurring presence of masks and armor within Chromati’s artwork holds profound symbolic meaning. Her characters often represent aspects of herself while simultaneously embodying the experience of black women as a whole. Masks and armor act as a shield, protecting individuals from external harm and judgment. By depicting her characters engaging in joyful activities while still adorned with these symbolic elements, Chromati emphasizes their resilience, pride, and ability to find balance in a world that often seeks to undermine their identity.
The Essence of Black Womanhood
Celebrating Beauty and Empowering Black Women
Chromati’s artwork serves as a celebration of the inherent beauty and strength found within black women. She challenges the historically limited and often negative depictions of black women in the media by providing positive and realistic representations through her artwork. By capturing everyday moments of hurt, support, laughter, and personal expression, Chromati fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of the rich tapestry of black womanhood.
From Oversexualization to Empowerment: BBW Show
Chromati’s inaugural solo exhibition, BBW Show, aimed to reclaim the acronym “Big Beautiful Women,” shedding light on the inherent beauty and strength of black women without falling into the trap of oversexualization. Through powerful pieces depicting women braiding hair, couples embracing with balance and harmony, and women standing confidently in the foreground, Chromati redefines societal narratives and challenges preconceived notions of beauty and power dynamics.
The Connection Between Space and Identity
Theresa Chromati’s artwork delves into the intricate relationship between space and identity, exploring the concept of finding one’s sense of self amidst external influences. The metaphorical representation of home as a structure serves to highlight the constraints, pain, and misogyny often associated with societal expectations. Chromati’s depiction of women standing on top of houses signifies their ability to overcome these confines and assert their individuality. Furthermore, her artwork alludes to the invasion of personal space, as reflected in the title “Behind Bae’s Worth,” suggesting the need for healthy boundaries and mutual respect within relationships.
The Artistic Process: Nurturing Authenticity
Depth, Movement, and Color: Artistic Choices
Chromati’s artistic process is influenced by the vibrancy and innovation present within her community. The richness and diversity of her surroundings inspire her choice of colors and the dynamic movement depicted in her artwork. By incorporating personal insecurities into her pieces, such as her unique feet, Chromati finds self-acceptance and beauty within imperfections. The stylized and fluid nature of her artwork extends beyond the figures themselves, influencing the patterned backgrounds that add depth and visual interest to her compositions.
Keloids: A Symbol of Identity and Conversations
Keloids, a recurring element in Chromati’s artwork, possess personal significance and evoke discussions surrounding black identity and beauty standards. As someone with a keloid scar on her chest, Chromati uses this feature to encourage conversations about the definition of beauty and challenge conventional norms. The representation of keloids in her artworks invites viewers to reflect on the complexities of individuality and appreciate the beauty found within what society may deem as imperfections.
The Importance of Storytelling
For Chromati, storytelling is an essential component of her artistic expression. Raised by her grandmother from another country, she was immersed in vivid and detailed stories that painted a vivid picture of unfamiliar places. This formative experience has shaped her desire to recreate immersive environments within her art. Chromati craves the rich narratives behind people’s experiences, wanting to be transported to the very essence of specific moments. This emphasis on storytelling allows her to forge a deep, emotional connection with her audience.
An Ideal Party and Endless Creative Exploration
Chasing the Perfect Party
Chromati’s thirst for inspiration and creative experiences leads her on a constant search for her ideal party. Desiring the spontaneous and unexpected, she yearns for parties that defy conventions, evoking the spirit of Studio 54 and the vibrant clubs of 1970s and 1980s New York. Seeking an amalgamation of strangeness, diverse music, unique lighting, and even the presence of animals, Chromati remains steadfast in her pursuit of the perfect partyâ€”something that embodies all her desires and exceeds the expectations of even her wildest dreams.
Grace in Her Space is more than just an exploration of artistry; it is an ode to the resilience, beauty, and power of black women, told through the vibrant and thought-provoking works of Theresa Chromati. As she continues to push artistic boundaries and challenge societal norms, Chromati invites viewers to reflect on their own identities, celebrate diversity, and appreciate the intricate tapestry of human experience.
Conclusion and FAQs
In conclusion, Theresa Chromati’s artwork serves as a powerful testament to the beauty and strength found within black women. Through her innovative use of mediums, textures, and symbolism, she crafts intricate narratives that defy convention and challenge societal expectations. Her exploration of space, identity, and personal experiences creates a captivating visual journey for viewers, inspiring introspection and appreciation for the diverse tapestry of human existence.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are Theresa Chromati’s main artistic mediums?
2. How does Chromati incorporate texture into her artwork?
3. What inspires Chromati’s focus on partnerships among women?
4. Which city has had a profound influence on Chromati’s work?
5. How does storytelling influence Chromati’s artistic expression?
6. What are some symbolic elements in Chromati’s artwork?
7. What is the significance of keloids in Chromati’s pieces?
8. How does Chromati envision the perfect party?
9. What themes does Chromati explore in her BBW Show?
10. What is the essence of Chromati’s artistic message?