Before you start the Popul/Arte series, get to know what motivates and inspires Artists-in-Residence, Negráfrica.
Negráfrica is a group of five black artists living in various regions of Brazil. Each of us specializes in different mediums such as comics, photography, painting, drawing and poetry. We use experimental art to create tangible objects that carry emotion and history. In October 2019, we made a zine called Renascimento about our childhood, and during the pandemic we started a podcast. Our platform provides a space for Black, non-white and queer artists to talk about their creative lives.
How do you envision Popul/Arte making the university more accessible to people? Why is this important?
We see the internet as a place to make art and knowledge more accessible. Most people still don't have access to attending a university because of social inequality. Everybody doesn’t have the “privilege” to focus only on their studies because they are needing to work to provide a place to live and put food on the table. It is important for opportunities like "Popul/Arte" to share knowledge outside of academic spaces to make it accessible, where everyone can learn from scholars and creatives.
Is there a pivotal experience that brought you to your art?
We were lucky to have met each other with instant chemistry. Each one of us has an individual interest in various art forms. We intersect in our collective desire to change the perception of what it means to be a Black female artist. Overall, Negráfrica is a space where we are free to experiment and create new narratives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we started a podcast as a place to explore our experiences and talk to other artists. We’ve been exploring the internet and social media, as a communication vehicle to share our knowledge about art, production and research. The podcast is also an accessible means to spread concepts to an audience that may not be familiar with the definitions and artistic concepts of Brazil. Our goal is to continue democratizing knowledge through our projects.
What do you hope participants will take away from Popul/Arte?
We’re excited to break barriers and make our voices heard around the world! Participants in "Popul/Arte" will get a taste of Brazilian culture and independent art production. We hope to share our knowledge and to learn together because we believe in the power of collective learning. Also, we hope the participants will gain a different perspective of what Latin American Art is and what it can be. Our art is more than a copy-paste version of colorful or violent stereotypes. Latin America spans three continents with many countries, and our art reflects that diversity.
We all have unique native, invaded, enslaved and colonized histories that we carry with us. As a result, our art and ideas vary regionally and yet, in some moments, are very alike. We hope participants in Popul/Arte will challenge their preconceived ideas of what defines art from the Americas.
It’s hard to define simply what our local context would be, comprehending that beyond the conception of transculturation that exists in our culture, we have multiple socio-cultural questions being discussed in art, as a form of reflection. People may understand our art as something purely colorful, as an aesthetic pleasure with no meaning, but it is heavily important to observe the productions that aren’t in the mainstream or even exclusively in museums.
Independent production is an experimental space in which the concern of being aesthetically pleasing for the foreign eye does not exist. Brazil has been through that process before during the Semana de 22. Back then, a group that, in its majority, were composed of privileged people, gathered together to create a sense of what Brazilianness should be. That process did not consider the real experience of what Brazil really is, but an expected experience of what Brazilian art is exclusively for the foreign viewer.
Therefore, Brazilian art is not something that is made as a product, at least it should not be. It’s something that should develop itself organically, considering the richness of each region of our country. Art should invoke uniqueness through regionality, not underestimating local production. Finally, we believe in going against the preconception of what Brazilianness is and giving space to a production that reflects an artist’s creative potential.
* Brazilianess, in free translation, is the concept of being Brazilian itself. In Portuguese we would simply say “brasilidade”.
Biographies of the Negráfrica Collective
Camila Parreiras [@prosacomcamila]: Camila Parreiras, (she/her) is a Brazilian graphic designer and photographer living in São Paulo, Brazil. She is the Co-founder of Negráfrica, where she deepens her research about memory and the poetics of place. She often takes daily walks collecting objects both familiar and unfamiliar to create elaborate multi-media installations.
Daiely Gonçalves [@daielygoncalves]: Daiely Gonçalves, (she/her) is a Brazilian artist and arts educator. She grew up in the city of Contagem, Minas Gerais, Brazil and embodies the streets of Belo Horizonte (the capital) and the interior of Minas Gerais. Daiely is inspired by everyday ritualistic scenes of affection, leisure and intimacy. Coming from the word (mother) and tools (father), she moves in the firmness of the stories she observes and translates them into varied languages and expressions. She animates the breaths, otherness, and choreography of her subjects and the places they inhabit.
Jéssica Goés [@jessicargoes]: Jéssica Góes (she/her) is an arts educator, visual artist and illustrator based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She explores the most diverse techniques such as watercolor, digital painting, woodcut, silkscreen, marker pen and engraving metal. She focuses on how Black children are represented in her children's illustrations and how she can help build their identity and self-esteem.
Leticia Moreno [@negapeta]: Letícia Moreno or Leta (she/her) is an art historian, illustrator, and comic artist living in Maricá, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her research as an artist focuses on creating sensitivity and – why not? – a perspective with an emphatic point of view of Blackness. It refuses each and every stereotype and is informed by narratives of daily life, reflections, history, experimental color, and texture.
Mayara Smith [@mayarasmith_]: Mayara Smith (she/her), is a Brazilian artist currently living in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. Her research is about Black bodies, especially women, and how to express their identities, ancestrality and work through shared historical trauma. She sees herself as a multi-artist, passing through many languages: graphic design, painting, drawing, comics and even embroidery.