We had the good fortune of connecting with Cyra the Artist and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cyra the Artist, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
“All that I do will be in service of my art.” This is a mantra that I’ve repeated to myself multiple times a week from the time I decided to take my art career seriously. I chose that specific phrase because I wanted to have a constant, positive, reminder of where I’m going and where I’m coming from. Creating art is ,my life’s passion. I want everything that I do, every step and choice I make, to have a positive impact on my life through my art. This affirmation provides me encouragement and clarity and it keeps me focused on my goals.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I enjoy spending time getting to know people from all walks of life. My interactions have taught me that Black people are judged prematurely, and often unintentionally. Most people have the same desire to be seen, heard, and understood—as Black Americans do—though they create distance and difference between us. I aim to influence self-reflection with my paintings. My art portrays Black stories, feelings and experiences. It depicts our beauty, strength, joy and pain—and the nuances between. I want my art to build a bridge between the spirit and emotions of people of African descent and those of people of other races and cultures; the goal of which is always empathy, understanding and respect. My primary artistic concern is the enlightening discovery of self by providing a candid intimate encounter with the emotions and experiences of Black people. With a sense of intimacy and vulnerability depicted in my paintings, the audience is drawn to the inner-world of the highly melanated. I choose to paint my subjects realistically because I want them to look like real people; be seen as real human beings, not stereotypes and exaggerated caricatures. Cutout substrates aid in the storytelling aspect and context of my work. This is why I design and carve masonite board to house my figures. They play an integral role in how the painting is meant to be perceived. My aim is to have the audience question who the person in the painting is and how they came to be shown so expressively through art; to ponder what the cutout shape symbolizes in reference to the subject. Unexpectedly, the viewer can engage with the subject on a personal level, bridging a gap and forming a connection with a Black person in whom they see parts of themselves, or parts of themselves they wished they expressed. Like the thunderstorm I was born into, I believe my creativity surges and brings change within my audience. My motivational mantra being “All that I do will be in service of my art” led me to becoming a member of the Hardy & Nance Studios resident artist family and the birthing of my dream: Visionary Grind Arts—a cornerstone of creativity where Black and Brown artists, and all lovers of art, can engage and connect. I plan to expand Visionary Grind Arts from a collective to an arts complex in the Houston art or warehouse district.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Honestly, I don’t go out much; but I love trying new restaurants and visiting venues I’ve never been to before. I make a point to support local and small businesses–and it just so happens they usually have the best food and atmosphere! Any place that has live music or a great DJ, with great drinks and energy, is a spot I’d like to visit. Houston has great parks and a great art scene. I’d definitely take my best friend to see the Hardy & Nance Studios and other studio warehouses in the art and warehouse districts. Aside from that, it’s safe to say I’m still a tourist in the city I’ve called home for 3 years (lol).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I attended Grambling State University, that’s where I honed my skills and developed my passion. I have to shoutout my mentor and former advisor, Drék Davis. From my first semester at GSU, to this day, he’s been a source of encouragement and inspiration when it comes to my art education, practice, and career.