Today we’d like to introduce you to LaTonia Allen.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Houston about six years ago. After being deterred from art due to feeling uncomfortable in an environment where I essentially was the only one who looked like me in all of my art courses, I decided to truly pursue a career in art in the vibrant, diverse city of Houston by transferring to the John Biggers Art Center at Texas Southern University. After graduating, I began working various odd jobs, and small jobs as a graphic designer around the city. It wasn’t until at the end of 2016, where I found myself at a job I hated, unhappy and creatively shut down when I decided to suddenly quit my job and work full-time as an artist/designer.
The year of 2017 was a fun, challenging, freeing year of growth and opportunity. It was amazing. I had clients from all over the U.S. and after designing outfits for some of Houston’s most successful African-American women, I was invited to attend Tina Knowles’s 1st Annual Wearable Art Gala in Los Angeles, CA. (which I also attended this year as an artist participant). The year of 2017 also sparked an intense idea I’ve developed for a new series that I am currently in the works of finishing. I am debuting ten (10) brand new original pieces June 21st at Houston’s newest black-owned art gallery, the District Art Gallery located in the warehouse district of downtown Houston. Also, exactly one month proceeding, on July 21st I will be showcases a select few from that show at the Bert Long Jr. Gallery inside the Houston Museum of African-American Culture.
Lastly, these two solo exhibitions will be my last in the city of Houston as I am leaving in August to start yet another journey in my career. I have been accepted into the Master of Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts, NYC. Where I hope to grow more, expand my ideas and become a new artist. The future while scary and overwhelming… is a blessing and I am ready to move to my next level.
Please tell us about your art.
Any time I would be asked this question in the past, I always had an exact answer. Almost rehearsed answer. But at this time in my career and in my life… I struggle to answer this question. I feel my art right now is changing and in such a transitional state, it is difficult to narrow it down to one message. What I can tell you is, I mainly love to paint. I love to paint colorful, vibrant and mainly figurative pieces. I paint figures, because I think creating African-Americans in beautiful hues and stances gives a sense of empowerment and pride. Representation is always on my mind. At this time, I’m exploring new ways of showing that while also making my work more personal. I’m in a search to find my voice amongst the various conversations of art. I have many topics in mind that range from self-love/self-acceptance – to – conversations of mental health – to – spurts of healthy rebellion. The question is just how and what message(s) do I want to talk about.
What you should know about my artwork is, what you see right now… you might not see from me in 12 months, so please understand my journey.
We often hear from artists that being an artist can be lonely. Any advice for those looking to connect with other artists?
Being an artist can be very lonely. The only way to stop yourself from feeling isolated all the time, is to go out in the world and explore + attend different shows, events, exhibitions, openings… everything. The more and the more diverse, the better. There are groups on Facebook to stay current with local art events, there are so many outlets and organizations that help artist with networking. But most importantly, I’d say even during the creating process be sure to take time to still be “social”. Still go out, enjoy a nice beer at a brewery with friends, go to the parks, attend a party… try to not allow yourself to get so consumed in your head and ideas that you miss out on the world moving around you. It’s ok to take small breaks, just never stop creating.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Given the fact that I feel my work is changing, I decided to temporarily shut down my website until I can curate it to represent me as I am now and will be.
However, people can support me and view my work a few different ways:
- Following me on social media at @LaToniaShanee
- Attending my Solo Exhibition June 21st at District Art Gallery
- Attending my last solo exhibition in Houston, TX July 21st at Houston Museum of African-American Culture
- Website: latoniaallen.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @LaToniaShanee
- Facebook: LaTonia Allen
Julian Kane, Dominic Clay