We’re pleased to share an interview with artist Anitra Frazier, who placed 3rd in Miri Gallery’s juried art competition, “Welcome to My World: Mental Health Awareness Through Art.” An incredibly talented artist, Anitra Frazier was born in Ohio and now resides in Illinois. We’re honored to exhibit some of her work at Miri Gallery this month. Now, on to Anitra!
•• Tell us a little bit about your background. What made you interested in art? Who were your early influencers?
Art class was my favorite subject in grade school, as it was a welcome break from math, English and science courses. I enjoyed the hands on experience of creating with markers, crayons and glue. I was able to use my imagination and think outside of the box. I majored in General Art in college, which was a natural transition for me. The Baroque period of art fascinated me most, with the dramatic contrast and dark backgrounds. Vermeer and Jan VanEyck come to mind.
•• How is your personality reflected in your work?
I use my own face for many of my paintings. Keeping My Head Above Water, I AM Smiling, Restless Night and Wallflower are all biographical self portraits. I like to use metaphorical images to help drive the message of the piece. I also like to use a bit of humor since that's always been part of my personality.
•• What is your current medium and why have you chosen to work with it?
My current medium is oil paint. My sister gave me a small starter set of oils as a present two years ago, and I fell in love with it. I had been using acrylic paint previously, and what I notice is it dries too quickly, even with paint retarding mediums. Oil is rich in color and depth, creamy and can still be worked even after a full day.
•• Please tell us a bit about your piece(s) that are being exhibited at Miri Gallery. How do they fall into the theme of mental health awareness?
These pieces are self portraits of how I have felt in dealing with anxiety and depression. I find that it's therapeutic to paint my feelings more so than put them in words. Keeping My Head Above Water was born out of frustration of trying to get through day to day life in survival mode. Survival mode is where you are just going through the motions and not really living. Restless Night is about all of those sleepless nights when my body is tired but my brain is still highly active. I want to sleep but my thoughts, usually worrying, won't let me. I AM Smiling adds a little humor. I am always asked, usually by strangers, "Why don't you smile? It's not that bad". I've always found this to be an odd request especially from a stranger, but if they only knew that I'm trying my best to just get through the day. Wallflower is a metaphorical piece about how I have always felt in social situations. Having anxiety makes it so uncomfortable to have a conversation with someone. I sometimes feel as if I am blending into the walls.
•• What’s the best advice you ever had about how to be more creative?
The best piece of advice I ever received was from an art professor who told me "Your art has honesty. Don't ever lose that." That is the reason why when I am in a creative slump, I go back to my feelings. I ask myself what is it that I really want to say.
You can view more of Anitra’s artwork at Miri Gallery during the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll on September 16th, and also on her website at www.anitrafrazierart.com. Stay tuned for interviews from other artists who will be exhibiting at the show, including those who placed second and first.