Your work is very empowering and you focus on spreading positive and relatable messages that are so prevalent in today’s society. Your work touches on everything from pop culture, to social injustice, to affairs of the heart. What inspired you to begin creating? Was there a moment in your life where you felt that it was just what you needed to do?
Thank you! As early as I can remember I was marching to the beat of my own drum. Getting expelled from school for too much glitter or the actual bells on my bell bottoms that I refused to remove, I’ve kept things interesting, to say the least. And maybe that made things harder but in trade, it made things more exciting, fun and gave room for experimentation, and growth specifically artistically. I’ve always used my artwork as my deepest form of very personal, and honestly more often than not, my most vulnerable expression of myself.
I’ve always been consumed with ideas deeply inspired by my own feelings and experiences and I have been trying to work through those things and place them somewhere. It’s TOO MUCH to keep it all inside. My heart is always aching- good or bad- crying every day- good or bad. Sounds like a mess! HA! But what a beautiful disaster. I mean what’s life without feeling? When you can see beauty in the smallest things and even in the worst circumstances a light and energy of deep gratitude for almost anything can shape your life into that of meaning and joy. I can say for a certainty that my own deeply rooted connection to my own thoughts and feelings has made me a very empathetic person and willing and able to connect on a deeper level with others. I would say there have been many moments along my journey when I knew I was on the right path. To put anything out there that makes someone feel any type of emotion or connection is very powerful. And to hear how your work is touching others makes you feel that you’ve tapped into a part of yourself that was meant to be shared. When the things you do for yourself become everyone else’s you know it’s a righteous and important part of your life’s purpose.
Has your worked stemmed from issues you have experienced in your life? If so, how has artistic expression helped you personally?
Yes, literally everything I’ve ever made has come from “issues”. I’ll say it! Weight issues, body image issues, relationship issues, societal issues, political issues, angsty issues, individual worth issues, domestic violence issues, street harassment issues, equality issues and more. Literally anything I’ve lived through that I’ve felt strongly about working through artistically. Which like I said before I’m super “feely” so I get pretty passionate, determined, and fixated on expressing what I feel at any given time. And I’ll ride that as long as I personally need to work it out. Sometimes I can deal with something and feel okay about it and things resurface so I rework or revisit the idea. This is when I feel the streets are my haven. I can get things out quickly, anonymously, boldly. I’m literally releasing from myself what I need to and placing it physically somewhere else.
It’s wild to me. It is extremely therapeutic. The special part about all of this though is that once it hits the streets, my very personal work no longer is mine, it’s everyone else’s.
The special part about all of this though is that once it hits the streets, my very personal work no longer is mine, it’s everyone else’s. I leave it there. The universe deals with the rest. And the “rest” has become quite remarkable. I get letter upon email upon photo upon phone calls daily from people that have had some sort of deep connection to my work. When they share with me what that was and why everything comes full circle.
I feel that maybe I should give you an example perhaps a timeline of a few of my bodies of work. In 2010 I began with a series of graphics that I had created based on CAT CALLS I had heard over the years, one of the most reoccurring ones in my earlier overweight years was “DAMN GIRL YOU THICK”. Each cat call was paired with an image of a naked obese woman. I felt that these images needed to be placed back on the street just where they originated. They needed to be just as public and uncomfortable as cat calling was. So conceptually street art just really suited this body of work. That’s how I even ever got into the streets.
The two bodies of work that I’ve been passing around now are the Goth and Power Hearts. The Goth Hearts are all feeling and relationship based, for example “STAY, UR LOSING ME”, “UR ALL I NEED”, and “U BLEW IT”. Whereas the “Power Hearts” are moreself-love driven and motivational, for example, “KEEP GOING”, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”, and “YOU CAN”.
I came out of a really bad relationship a little over a year ago and at the time I felt so low, depleted, and drained. I started therapy and began a hard journey of rebuilding what had been destroyed within myself. I decided to do a series just for myself. I really needed these positive affirmations. So, I started pasting the Power Hearts around places I frequented as reminders for myself. Again, something happened. This gave hope, light, love, and encouragement to so many other people and created another full circle effect. I had a bump in the road and fell back into contact with the relationship I had escaped. However, the universe delivered daily encouragement which, unbeknownst to them, I received from reading others stories that they would share with me about how the hearts had helped them. I had also worked so hard to become healthy and strong again that I was able to shut that door forever. It’s been incredible to watch the love spread and grow to so many others. It just reiterates the idea to all that you truly are not alone. We are all struggling at one point or another, it is inevitable.
You preach female empowerment in your work, inspiring women on a global scale. What is your personal take on empowerment and how do you plan to continue to spread your artistic message?
YES! I absolutely like to speak to the importance of equality and in doing so that leads me more often than not to female empowerment. One reason is to some we are STILL not considered equal! I want to spread to other women feelings and ideals of encouragement, motivation, positivity, drive, courage, worth, and strength. We are told and shown A LOT by others on a public and personal level that we are not these things. And that’s not okay. And I don’t believe it’s playing a victim to stand up for my worth and share that with others. Uncomfortable and scary at times, sure. But, we are stronger together and I’ll ALWAYS be one of the ones roaring about what incredibly important, vital, equal beings we (women) are. We need to lift each other and help one another.
I think an important part of empowerment is working on ourselves. Everyone has work to do, and in my opinion, that is going to make us stronger women, friends, mothers, daughters, partners, and people. I also think that being vulnerable, humble, and supportive of each other are three key components to helping each other walk in power. We need to create a safety net to get to those places with each other. Mistakes and failures are growth always so recognizing strength in times of weakness is always important as well. I think sharing your story and connecting with other women on an authentic level is one of the most important ways to build special bonds.
I have been traveling as much as possible with my work and will continue to spread the love and power. Also, I think that collaborating when I can with other women, encouraging and supporting other women’s endeavors, listening to other women and sharing with other women, all make a world of a difference. We don’t always have to be screaming to make a difference. The private quiet moments count too. Holding yourself accountable is what matters most.
I have a special interest in a few organizations that I see empowering youth and specifically girls in all the right ways. I couldn’t be fonder of what SKATEISTAN does. I think being aware and supportive of organizations like these truly makes a difference. I hope to use my work in any way possible to help righteous organizations like theirs.
You trained formally as a photographer and have been involved in the Philly art scene for some time now. What has the response to your work been like there and do you plan to expand your work globally in the future?
I think I’ve always been dreaming my way through Philly and turning dreams and ideas into reality, which people have noticed. But it’s just always stemming from this passion I have within me that I typically can’t contain. The more off the wall and scary an idea feels the more likely I am to just go for it. I think people might just be watching the show. Like who is this wacky woman? I’m kind of unpredictable. In 2009 I had this pink covered floor to ceiling art gallery that my Boston Terrier Miss Pinky Polka Dots was the CEO of where we spun loads of cotton candy for the viewers of the local and national artists works that were on display. People kind of noticed that. My street art was more anonymous in the beginning because people didn’t know it was me or who I was. I don’t leave my name on the hearts. I think that it’s the least important part of the work. I’m not putting something up for you to know who I am. I am putting something up for my own personal reasons that in turn becomes yours. I think that Philly really feels that the hearts are theirs because of that. They are! To anyone that comes across a heart, they are bombarded with their own personal connection, thought, feeling, memory, or emotion to that piece. I don’t need my name ruining that for them . That is their moment.
I absolutely consider my work trigger work. If you see it unexpectedly it’s going to cause a reaction. I love that! And I love to hear from people. It makes sleepless nights worth it. It makes me not doubt for a second that I have to keep going. I’m very interested in how feelings and relationships translate in different languages and cultures. I plan to take things international. One of my best friends is from Mexico. We spent quite some time together talking about love and relationships in the Mexican culture and how the “Goth Hearts” series would translate there. There is a pretty significant Spanish speaking community here in Philadelphia so I tested the waters with two Spanish goth hearts here in philly and the response was awesome. It’s all about making the time for the final designs and having the money to make the trip to Mexico but it’s on the forefront as far as international heart travel. I’ll keep going until it doesn’t feel right anymore. For now, this journey is young.
You are clearly fearless in artistic experimentation as you continue to work with a large variety of mediums. Can you please tell me more about your medium of choice and where you would like to see your art head in the future?
Fear is my tool. I channel fear of different mediums into excitement for failure that in turn offers me the opportunity to learn and grow. It is so damn uncomfortable. But I know that the end result of failure is growth and the opportunity to find something greater within myself. So, another thing that I just have to be real about and just let people watch me do along the way. Go ahead and watch me fail because I know I’m going to learn something amazing. AHHH! I love wheat paste and paper. I love running my hands over the paste and working the paper against different textures. It’s my happy place, it’s my quiet private time. I have this rush putting up my heart and soul on a public wall and then my last step before walking away from the piece is running my hands over the piece and working into the surface and walking away. That’s really symbolic when you think about it.
There is always beauty in the breakdown. I never know who will destroy a piece on the street, who is going to paint over it, or if a weather element will affect it. But I’m working with materials now, specifically for commissioned outdoor pieces that are permanent. And that’s exciting, and scary! It’s hard when you switch things up with your craft, you need to master something new. I’ve been lucky enough to have many large scale commissioned pieces and I love the challenge and experience of that. I’ve always been interested in not only fashion, but interior design as well. Aside from my interest in larger scale work I feel the need to get some really exclusive interior pieces going. I am thinking wallpaper and neons.
What’s next on your creative journey? Do you have any projects you are looking forward to?
I love the diversity of projects I am working on each day. Every job is so different. Ultimately I’m so grateful to meet and work with people daily that are commissioning me to do work because of a connection that they have felt with me or my work. It’s all so meaningful.
What’s next on my radar… I’m excited to be traveling for a few large scale commissions this fall, a few brand collaborations coming up, some meet and greets with kids, curated pop-up shops (which means new merchandise), and pushing myself to learn and grow. I want to keep motivating people to feel and connect with themselves and others, while I work on myself. I had wanted to go back to school for art therapy years ago as I felt it was another purpose for my life. I knew I needed to use art to help others. Around that time I got really sick and was without a diagnosis for many years and the timing for that endeavor just didn’t align. I didn’t understand then why such a pure desire wasn’t panning out. But NOW, I feel that this is what was meant to be. This is the way that I can help others through art and I’m so grateful that things turned out this way. I also wouldn’t trade the years I spent in and out of the hospital for the perspective I’ve gained. That has also been instrumental in how I approach literally every day of my life.