Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski found inspiration in art sent by her imprisoned father

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski found inspiration in art sent by her imprisoned father

Teen Vogue highlights the work of visual artists with intimate profiles on their experiences, careers and ideas through our new Art School column. Each month, Artsy Window founder Chiara Ventura leads the discussion by focusing on artists of color and telling their stories through an informed lens.

A year ago, I went to visit the MFA Artists’ Studios at Yale University. There was one studio I will never forget. Reflective surfaces all around the room: sculptures made of mirrors, shiny fabrics, a six-inch shiny translucent block heel hanging from the sculpture, and a metal column in the middle of the room. The walls were covered with nine-foot-tall works on paper in pastel pinks and purples decorating huge, fairytale-like scenes with thick women of color prancing around within them. The studio was an extension of the playful paintings. This studio belongs to Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski. I met her that day but left with questions about the imaginary worlds within her paintings.

Amaryllis DeJesus Moleski is an interdisciplinary Afro-Boriki artist who imagines worlds in which women of color are included in historical narratives that define the essential spiritual and religious stories many believe in today. She graduated with a master’s degree in drawing and printmaking from Yale School of Art last year and recently exhibited at No One Promised You Tomorrow: Art 50 Years After Stonewall At the Brooklyn Museum. Working with large-scale drawings on paper, gouache, watercolour, markers, objects, video installations and light, Moleski seeks to transport viewers into a strange, loud and feminine visual narrative. This artistic voice came from a childhood driven by imagination and mobility.

Moleski was raised by a Bedouin single mother. By the time Molesky was 14, she had moved 16 times along the East Coast, South and Midwest. “It was just us on the road,” she said simply. “There was a certain quality about every place that felt like home, and one of those places was the public library. The public library quickly became a haven for me. In addition, my mother had a strong love for books that she passed on to me. Being in constant transition, it was “This place is my anchor.” Moleski delves into unknown worlds through libraries and finds herself drawn to book series such as Harry Potter, Lord of the rings, Chronicles of NarniaAnd Kindred, Newborn, proverb Series by Octavia Butler.

Her father was imprisoned her entire life, but they communicated through letters and drawings. “All the stories I loved were fantasy and mythology. My mother saw that I loved drawing and was very supportive of that. When my father was intermittently locked up, he would ask his friends who were locked up with him to draw cartoons. My favorite drawing was of Garfield with a ball and chain. I loved Garfield comics. He would even ask artists to draw cartoons on the envelopes. These things were important to me, including the connection to that style of visual culture.

    (tags for translation)art

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