Issue 154 Mary Blair Award Winning Piece
Wait for a Smile
Oil on canvas
34 x 30 in., 2019
Q’shaundra James is a local Las Vegas artist. She earned bachelor’s degrees in English and fine art at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her work has been exhibited at the Untitled Space Gallery and Main Street Arts. Q’shaundra participated in the Las Vegas Rouge Project. She also studied in Italy.
See more of Q’shaundra James’s artwork, including the award-winning ”Wait for a Smile,”
Erin SalazaR’s Commentary for
Wait for a Smile
This artist demonstrates an extraordinary command of color, utilizing analogous colors in such a lovely and subtle touch. Complementary colors give this piece an effortless mood. The choice to use such a yellow-heavy palette is both bold and warm. Too often women and girls are directed to “Smile!” and this piece flies in the face of that demand. A young Black girl, relaxed in mismatched jammies, epitomizes Black joy, peace, and a girl’s right to exist in her truest and most candid childhood form.
in conversation with
Can you tell us something about your creative process?
My creative process is ceremonial. After visualizing a concept, I gather the materials necessary for executing my idea. Building a canvas and arranging my space are ritualistic practices. These procedures support my ability to create and share. I can manifest my vision and make it accessible for others.
Are there any particular things that inspire or jump-start your creative process?
I’m inspired by history and its direct connection to contemporary time. Through my work, I investigate past events that have led to today’s social constructs and ideologies.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
My biggest influences are writers and poets, such as Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, and William Wordsworth. My motto for painting is a Latin phrase: Ut pictura poesis. This saying translates to “As is painting, so is poetry.” While poetry creates imagery through words, paintings create words through imagery.
What does your art aim to say?
My art aims to communicate that there is no monolithic way to be African-American. Stereotypes and stigmas should never be used as a means to educate people about a culture.
How has your art changed over time?
My work is still relatively new. I’m still experimenting with techniques and application.
What is the artist’s role in society?
I believe the artist’s role in society is to provoke thought. Art can be used as a stage for conversations. Even so, artists have a responsibility to themselves. Every creative is entitled to art for art’s sake.