I was casually perusing her site when I came across one of her paintings, the 'Monument'. The detailed description she gave on the painting process of it, not only caught my attention but gave me the unwritten story of a passionate artist.
When I was 13 years old, I had developed an obsession with rap music and graffiti art, not to mention hip hop dancing. Something about it really spoke to me, and I was very drawn into the culture. I wanted to create a brand or a tag name, much like the Graffiti artists in New York were doing. As a child I had developed the nickname Lady Di, since I was born at the height of Princess Diana’s fame and named after her. Then I thought of the Fly Girls on In Living Color who I became obsessed with. It came to me one day as I was sitting in class. Fly Girl… Fly Lady… Lady Di… Fly Lady Di.
Being that art is a VERY subjective term. Please give us a FlyLadyDi definition of it.
The FlyLadyDi definition of art is to express soul’s mind through the creation of pictures (whether they be painted with words, lyrics, color or dance). All art is a negotiation of space and time that connects humanity by the common denominator of emotional thought.
You grew up in a very creative environment. Your dad was a painter and your mom a remarkable seamstress and baker. Did this serve as inspiration for your artistic inclination? Who else inspired, or has inspired your creative journey/career?
Absolutely. As a kid, you absorb everything around you, so since I was surrounded by creativity, I couldn’t help but be creative myself. Watching my father paint for the first time was my first memory, and first real feeling of being truly alive and present. From that moment on, I knew it was my destiny to one day hold and control a paintbrush. There are a plethora of names to mention who inspired me throughout my journey; off the top of my head I’ll name a few – Dali, Picasso, Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul, DaVinci, Michealangelo, Monet, Van Gogh, Margaret Cho, Ejoe Wilson, Elite Force, all my friends in New York.
You are an ‘artist’ in the true sense of the word as you not only paint, but you also dance and act. How do you merge these three different art forms?
I guess by existing, I merge all three disciplines. An artist, if he or she is an artist at all, will not only have one creative output but several. My ultimate goal is to write – to be able to tell them and merge all three, and more, of my creative gifts on stage and screen.
One of my favorite paintings from you is the ‘Monument’ that you did in 2007, completed in 2008. On your blog, flyladydiblogspot.com you described the painting process in detail, where you tweaked, added, subtracted and perfected it for a whole NINE months. To me that’s pure hustle, and a whole lot of blood and sweat. Where do you creatively go for a whole nine months?
That’s a great question. I painted that during a time of extreme emotional turmoil. I felt very alienated from my surroundings and a lot of times I just wanted to be alone. Whenever I paint something, it’s not really even me that’s painting, it’s God. I just have to get out of the way and let him control the vessel, so those nine months were spent releasing control and letting the work do itself. That painting felt like it took forever and the moment that I completed it, it was sold. I felt like it was good to let go, though. Almost as if it existed as a reminder of the pain I went through while creating it. Its owner was a good friend of mine, and I’m just glad that he owns it, I know it’s in good hands.
Words are powerful. One of your tweets, ‘If I wasn’t an ARTIST, then I wouldn’t be anything’ is deeply real and intriguing. A prospective buyer, read it, saw your paintings, liked them and voila become a client. Since then have you become more conscious of what you say or you just go with the flow?
As an artist, I know we don’t like to be censored, especially by ourselves. If I hesitated in sending that tweet, then none of the chain of events would have occurred. So if I censor or become conscious of anything else I say, it will take away from the candid rawness of my tweets which I wouldn’t want. All that to say, yes I go with the flow.
You lived and worked in New York for some time. What was the art scene like? Did positive vibes vibrate from being around similar creative minds? What connections did you make?
The connections I made in New York are the ones I still keep to this day and are stronger than ever. I love my friends and miss them everyday. The art scene in New York is like something you’ve never seen before – unlike the dance scene where they can be a lot of politics, among the painters in Brooklyn and Uptown, I didn’t feel any tension or competitiveness, it was a very supportive and collaborative environment. And everyone has their own unique creative language which was very inspiring and influential. Yes, positive vibes emanate from every corner of New York City, it is spewing with talent and ideas with every square inch. That is the one thing I definitely miss the most about New York, that I connected with almost everyone I met at some level. That is a feeling I have yet to find elsewhere.
In one of your interviews, you mention one of my favorite artists based out of Brooklyn, Wangechi Mutu. Working at the AGO, which as you put “…quite rarely” represents women of color, how did it feel to see her works on display? (Oh by the way congrats on netting your dream job!….as per your comments on flyladydi.com)
I have never seen anything like her work and I doubt I ever will. When I heard the name Wangechi Mutu, I thought she might be a he or might have been Japanese. I had no idea she would be based in Brooklyn and a black woman in her thirties. So right away, having learned that, it hit very close to home. Her works were very eloquent and exquisitely executed with precision and tact. She has a very unique and futuristic approach to installation art, one in which you really get to the roots of her creative mind, and almost feel surrounded by it in a sense. Mutu’s work exhudes a certain sexual intelligentia, in that only mature, profound thinkers could receive its intended message.
You recently finished choreographing a project commissioned by Dusk Dances, tell us how this project came about.
Well I have been working with an amazing organization out here in Toronto called ArtStarts, and ever since my first gig with them I have been working non-stop and I really appreciate that because it’s a perfect match on both ends. This past year, they co-partnered with Dusk Dances and I was highly recommended to its Creative Director. They then asked me to submit a proposal which I did and received notice shortly after that my piece was to be commissioned for the summertime, and the rest was history!
There have been paintings that I’ve seen that have left me with question marks due to an artist’s description, and the lack of connection on my part. Do you get offended/frustrated when a regular fails to understand what you are trying to convey?
Not at all. There were times when I saw a painting from an artist I admired and stood with questions about it that were left unanswered. Whether someone likes or understands my art at all is upon them, and not my responsibility. I paint for myself, I always have and the moment where I chose to paint for someone else’s intentions or understanding is when I fail as an artist.
As a businesswoman, how do you separate art from business?
Business is an art as well. So as an artist I can adapt the skills I have towards business matters. I’ve worked in sales before and I know I am capable of selling, but it’s all just a matter of separating myself from my work emotionally and sort of seeing it and myself as a brand that I believe in, and feel the world should pay attention to as well.
Where can interested clients buy your art from?
For now one can purchase my shirts, I want to relaunch my prints when I develop a trustworthy partnership with another party. Right now my focus is on my craft, as opposed to selling, the sales will come in time when I have the time and knowledge in order to creative a proper business plan for it.
Name three things as an artist you can’t live without:
What is the future like for FlyLadyDi?
My future shines brightly. I envision myself always in pursuit of artistic goals at the same time getting better and better at what I do as an artist of many disciplines. I guess I’ll leave it at saying people should just expect the unexpected when it comes to me and my art.