Interviewer: Anthony Murdock II of Butler University
Interviewee: Shadé Bell of Indianapolis, IN
Throughout history, art has played a tremendous role in the creation of culture. From canvas paintings showing the landscapes of terrain to graffiti art spreading a message to the people of the city, art tells a story. And that story helps to orient the life experiences of the artist within the community, and also helps the community better understand its impact on history.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting an up-and-coming artist, Shadé Bell! We met through a mutual friend and engaged in a conversation that ultimately led me to seeing some of her work and I was astounded by her vision, her talent and her insight on the power of art and culture. After about an hour of conversation, I knew I had to talk to her more in-depth about her art, her perspective on being black in white america and the power of art on culture.
We linked at a Starbucks two weeks later and had a great interview. Bell opened the interview with explaining how she got involved with art, but painting in particular. “As a child I had always been a fan of drawing and doodling. But April 2015 is when I found myself in a dark place and time. I had no outlet to express myself, so I decided to find one. Expressing my emotions and thoughts all on canvas.” I think it’s dope how people come to discover their various talents and gifts through such a diversity of experiences. For Bell to have found a gift that produces such beautiful work in such a dark place is amazing and speaks to the power of art.
There is great knowledge to be gained in learning the value of inspiring work to the people that created it. I am always interested in knowing what art means to the artist, because it often helps me gain a greater grasp on the power of art on culture-creators. I asked Bell what her art meant to her and she told me, “It means self-reflection of me as a whole. My dreams, inspirations, my past, future, etc. [It means] expressing my everyday feelings thoughts. Also growth. Forever a work in progress.”
At this point in the interview, I’m just enjoying the wisdom she’s spitting so I take things a step further and ask about the future. I wanted to know more about the relationship between her art, her vision and the future. Bell said, “I see my art taking me around the world from galleries in Paris to studios in Chicago. I plan on taking my artwork all over the country. Owning my own galleries and studios in major cities. I plan on helping set change to our country or at least inspiring the minds that will. Some piece I end up doing in the future will be life changing to someone.” Tell me that’s not just dope–exactly you can’t! Bell is the bomb y’all!
Finally, the interview came to a close and I asked if she had any last words for young artists of color looking to grow and develop. Bell said, “Believe in yourself. Whatever dreams or goals you have–they are reachable. Being someone of color or a minority means there’s always a barrier to be broken. Why not prove society wrong by seeing your vision come true? From the struggle of our ancestors and elders, we have NO LIMIT to what we can do. Take full advantage of our culture. Don’t conform for society, just do you.” And with that, I was ready to enroll in my first art class since the first grade, haha.
This interview was great, but the Bell’s work and vision is even greater than the expanse of this interview. Be sure to peep the spotlight article I did on her so you can show her the support she deserves–it’s under the “We Peep Your Progress” section of the blog! Thanks for reading y’all.