How have the Arts impacted your life?
The arts have impacted my life in so many ways. As a child, I was very creative
and loved to draw and make up stories. Many thought I'd be an artist or an architect rather than a lawyer. In the end, law chose me. In law, to be successful, you have to use your creative side. To me, an artist is someone who pushes boundaries and their imagination, and someone who can immerse themselves into the beauty of the human experience --in living color with all of their senses. I do all of these things when I get into my cases. My creative side allows me to humanize even the most controversial and scandalized figures and evoke empathy for them. I love that I have the ability through story telling to bring my clients to life in a brilliant array of complex emotions that places on display all the ones we commonly possess inside. By doing so, I make them relatable, and oft times sympathetic --so much so that even you, after understanding their narrative, would want to do justice for them.
What Arts are you exposing your son to as he develops and why?
His mother and I are exposing our son to all kinds of art forms, from authoring books, to painting, to participating in theatrical events. Art feeds the soul and frees the mind. I want my son to be free to dream of a world that he'd want his children to live in and then create it.
How have the arts impacted your life?
Art has impacted my life because it provides calmness in the storm we call life. Art in all forms allows the creator to escape from reality, or even sometime face reality by allowing us to take our frustration out, take a stand, support a cause, or use our voice through our craft. It is therapy not just for the creator but also for the audience. I am a stage 3B breast cancer survivor, so art kept me sane during and after my survival. I am here for a reason, so art allows me to leave a legacy for my friends and family and for those who are inspired or influence through my work.
What is your artistic style?
I consider myself an abstract impressionist, which is defined as: the painting of a subject such as real-life scenes, objects, or people (portraits) in an Impressionist-style. I work is primarily portraiture but not realism. My esthetic is strong female subjects; although I consider myself to be versatile I am a black woman so why not represent who I am.
Chester Gregory, artistically known as C.H.E.S.S., is a charismatic, award-winning actor and singer who has a 10-year career on Broadway in principal roles for Hairspray, Tarzan, Sister Act and Motown: The Musical. He has worked with music industry giants including Ledisi, PJ Morton and Chance The Rapper. C.H.E.S.S. also recently earned a Grammy consideration for his previous single “The Doppler Effect (It’s Me).” Today he has released, NATIONAL ANTHEM (ANOTHER ONE) via all digital music platforms.
“NATIONAL ANTHEM (ANOTHER ONE) is a play on words.” C.H.E.S.S. explains. “The songs title was inspired by conversations that went something like, ‘Did you hear about the (black person) killed by the cops?’ ‘You mean the one that happened 2 days ago?’ ‘No, another one happened yesterday.’ Then the next day or week another one would happen. Then another one. These conversations happen so often, it’s like a tragic anthem. We are forced to hear over and over.”
Tell us about the style and medium of your art.
My work is a celebration of the beauty and grace that I see in all women of color. My intent is for the viewer to slow down, take their time, and find their connection to the portraits before them.
I am drawn to images of the female form; it is the silhouette of black women that are of particular interest to me. I see the poise and energy women inhabit in the world, which is so often commodified in popular media. In response to this, I offer counter symbols of black women as figures personifying grace and strength. In my work, I explore the use of silhouettes by recontextualizing images from popular culture to use as entry points for deeper conversations on gender, race, and the perceptions of beauty.
Using photographs as my source image, my process begins by reducing the subjects to their essential elements, eliminating everything until they are stripped to raw imagery of line to expose their most compelling details. Next I will cut-out the silhouette and paint her in my signature high enamel blue. Final steps involve collaging the silhouette with pattern papers, encaustic prints or inked paper and pour resin to seal the composition. My preference is to work on birch panel; it supports my resin pours best and 2 -3 times a year I will create a large scale paper cut piece (see "There She Stands, Regal with her Braids and Beads").
In the current body of work, I am focusing on the themes of identity, migration, and displacement in the human narrative.