Windsor

Digital artist says her work is a way to 'reconstruct' Black identity

Kiki Symoné has the theme for her artwork for the year sketched out on the wall of her small workspace in an upstairs suite in Walkerville. BLM, the acronym for Black Lives Matter, is written at the top. 

Windsor's Kiki Symoné says in January she only had 8 sales but now her prints are selling worldwide

Kiki Symoné in her workspace in an upstairs suite in Walkerville. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Kiki Symoné has the theme for her artwork for the year sketched out on the wall of her small workspace in an upstairs suite in Walkerville. 

BLM, the acronym for Black Lives Matter, is written at the top. 

Further down "Justice 4 Breonna Taylor. Justice 4 George Floyd," is written.

Words and colours written — meant to inspire her artwork.

"I try to use a lot of white and black lines," Symoné said. "To me it represents hope and change for a better world." 

Her work highlights Black people doing every day things — a way to counter stereotypes perpetuated by the media.

One of her pieces "levitate levitate levitate" shows a graduation ceremony. Another of the most popular works depicts young ballerinas, and in another a typical barbershop scene. 

"I think my goal is to reconstruct our identity and to show a different narrative of who we are and can be.... I feel like that's my responsibility to try to offer a different perspective of just being vulnerable and feeling."

Other works show hands, of all shades. In one they are raised in the air, in another they form a circle.  

Digital artist Kiki Symoné holds a print of u.ni.ty. She says this is one of her most popular pieces. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

There are also works depicting scenes of protest. 

"I just feel like it's time. I feel like the Black Lives movement has been around for almost seven years. I feel like now's the time to get educated, now's the time to start reading about, you know, black lives really do matter," she said.

I was always seen but never really heard,- Kiki Symoné, artist

"It's one thing if you just listen to rap music and buy our art [but] really try to educate yourself on you know what's going on — police brutality, social inequalities, injustices."

Faceless

All the characters in her art are faceless as a way, she says, for people to be able to "walk" into her artwork.

"I really want them to be able to really feel it and resonate with it. That's why they're faceless because I want everybody to be able to feel themselves inside each print."

Symoné says her experience being the only Black kid in all classes at school plays into her art.

"I was always seen but never really heard." 

She goes by the name artdealerchick online and markets herself on social media as well as on Etsy.

In January she only had eight sales, but more recently, since the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, her art has been selling all over Canada, in Europe and the U.S.

"My sales have literally spiked," she said.

Symoné creates her digital works in a small room in an upstairs suite in Walkerville. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"Especially in the United States, I have a lot of people from Minneapolis, the location of George Floyd's murder."

"I notice a need for it, for sure, and clearly they do. They maybe feel inspired by it."

Here in Windsor, Symone's work is available at the Whiskeyjack Boutique, a downtown shop, as well as on her Etsy page.

She also does commissioned work for people often asking her to draw them and their families.

"I really take joy in that because I get to see the pictures that they sent and then I get to re represent their story which is awesome of all you know all people not just black people," she said. 

Symoné recently signed a consignment deal with a gallery in Brooklyn, New York and eventually, once it becomes easier, she plans to travel in the U.S. and promote her work to galleries. 

Black Ballerinas is one of a series created by Symoné. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

While normally she does work as a substitute teacher, something she is passionate about and wants to continue but she also hopes to share her passion for digital art with others in the future.

"I want to definitely try to do online streaming to teach people...  and how to even start digital art, eventually." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?

now