Saturday, December 17, 2011

Soul of The Artivist: Dahlia Perryman Interview

It's one thing to be held absolutely captivated and amazed by the art work we see. Fascinated by the details of every stroke or pen strike, left at awe about the story behind the masterpieces. Yet what really makes art special, what really takes things to another level is when you get to know the story behind the creator, when you get a peek into the psychic of the artist. Rest to sure that Dahlia Perryman is every bit as extraordinary as the art she creates.

Dalhia Perryman is an intellectual, activist, visual and performing artist and pageant queen utilizing her art as a catalyst for social change. With a classification of ‘very superior intellect’ she holds memberships in both the International High IQ Society and American Mensa High IQ Society.
She has been an orator for more than 15 years contributing her gift of gab to organizations such as the NAACP (Act-So), AARP, the American Red Cross, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Nova Southeastern University’s Lead Program, and Cope North Opportunity School. However she is more than a mouthpiece having contributed over 5200 lifetime hours of community service. Including a year of national service with AmeriCorps where she tutored non -literate adult learners and pre-school children. She has participated in Haiti relief efforts with the Port of Palm Beach in West Palm Beach, Florida and the Change is Coming Campaign in Miami, Florida. She was a relief worker immediately after Hurricane Katrina for evacuees from the storm and later spent time rebuilding homes in St Bernard Parish, Louisiana, the most devastated portion of the city. She also participated in a tornado relief telethon with channel 25. She has been an AIDS activist for more than eighteen years and most recently obtained four national certifications in Basic HIV education, and African American HIV Education and Prevention. She has participated in multiple fashion shows, including several benefiting Dress for Success of the Palm Beaches, an organization that provides free interview suits for low -income women.
As much as she loves art, Dalhia loves teaching even more and has held positions with
Iris Moon Beads as a jewelry/beading instructor. She taught drawing and painting with KidzArt and Senior Art and was a liturgical dance instructor and choreographer for pre-school students.
She was recently published in the African American National Biography a Henry Louis Gates/Harvard Production. And was invited to be a speaker at a press conference entitled 8 voices, 8 causes: a Community Forum on Global Hunger and Poverty in Fort Lauderdale. She has been honored by the American Association of University Women; the North Dade Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of Black School Educators and the Miami Dolphins among others.

And believe when I tell you, there is much more. Dahlia is more than just an artist, she is someone I would love for my future daughter to idolize. Just meeting her, you can feel that she has a great positive presence and is a real down to earth sincere Superwoman. Ladies and Gentlemen, lets get to know....Dahlia.

If ever there was anyone who was more than an artist it's you. Your activist work is outstanding. How do you find the time to be so involved and what inspires to give yourself for these causes?

I make time to be involved. I consider it my life purpose and think it's why God put me on this planet. To whom much is given, much is required.

When did you first realize that you have this talent to be a artist? What made you decide to stick with it?

I knew I had talent as a little girl but stuck with it because I had the audacity to believe that if I worked harder than most, one day I might BE one of the greats of my generation. My mentor the late Oscar Thomas also encouraged me to pursue it.

How would you define yourself as an artist to the world?
There's a new word floating around that fits me to a 't'. I consider myself an 'artivist'. That's someone who uses art as a vehicle for activism.

I know there is a saying that picking your favorite work is like picking your favorite child, but which pieces that you've created stand out the most?

Honestly the work I did in high school was some of my best work because I hadn't been to art school yet and no one had yet tainted me with their view of what art 'should be'. That work was raw and came from my heart

Now you have a love for teaching, so my question is what kind of role do you think art can/should have in today's education system?

I love art and sports. Unfortunately they are both being taken out of schools in order to focus on standardized tests. However I've seen scientific studies that suggest kids who participate in sports and the arts score higher on IQ tests. I personally believe it helps develop children's intellectual, decision making and motor skills, should remain in the school system AND be a core part of the curriculum.

A lot of your work from what I have notice has a reoccurring theme of strong women. What do you feel your trying to covey to the world with that? 

Traditionally women make 70 cents for every one dollar a man makes in the U.S. In some parts of the world women are killed for voicing an opinion and 1 billion people in the world live on less than $1 a day I want American women to realize that we are blessed and have responsibilities as women in this part of the world. I want women in general and black women specifically to feel empowered to change what they can change, to combat abuse, to learn to love ourselves, to feel like queens and demand to be treated as such because we ARE!

Can you take us on a tour into the artistic process of Dahlia?

If its a contest I start with a theme, and find the best reference photos I can find which helps make the work realistic. I draw until it feels finished, look at the image in a mirror ( seeing an image in reverse tricks the brain into finding mistakes.) Then I have my inner circle evaluate it to get rid of final mistakes then do photos, slides, prints, copyrights and frame

What as an artist would you say is your biggest accomplishment?

Professionally it was getting my work on CBS. Personally it is staying true to my style.

What advice would you want to give young up-coming artist, or even a child who displayed a natural talent?

I was told I wasn't talented enough to be an artist as a child, so first I'd tell them to believe they are the 'baddest' artist to ever do what they do. If you believe it, it's true. Work on your craft more than necessary. You don't want to be mediocre. You want to be phenomenal. Study: learn what made the great artists iconic. Get a mentor. Find that one thing you were told was impossible and do it. Finally....... Just draw!!!!

Who are your favorite artist and what are some of your favorite pieces?

Henry Ossawa Tanner, Synthia Saint James, Augusta Savage, Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Justin Bua, Skam2?, grafitti artists.......Favorite works: Sistine chapel, Ernie Barnes Sugar Shack, (the picture at the beginning of Good Times) Michelangelo's pieta, the complete journals of Leonardo Divinci

I know this can be an awkward or even borderline offensive question to ask a artist, but who would you compare your work to?

How could I be offended by that? Ironically my artwork leans more towards writers, civil rights leaders and musicians than artists, thematically Maya Angelou, Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni Bob Marley and conscious rappers (common, Nas, public enemy, the roots, and krs1) can be seen in my work. Artistically it mirrors my mentor Oscar Thomas.

Do you feel your art has made a impact on people?

Definitely, I can tell by the random people that share their stories after my shows. But my job is to do the work. It always reaches who it's meant to reach.

Being a black artist, do you notice any different treatment in the art communities?

I've had stereotypical and derogatory racial and gender based comments said to me at shows but I combat that by aiming to be the best artist period... not just best black artist... You can't deny excellence.... Paying my dues so I can get there.

When it's all said and done, what do you wish for your legacy to be?

Artistically i want my legacy to be that I challenged the status quo, made thought provoking work that stands the test of time and that I gave other artists help (financial, resources and encouragement) that they must then 'pay forward' to other young artists. As a human being my legacy should be that I was a decent and loving person, who worked hard and changed her part of the world. Thanks for this opportunity !

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