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Conversations with Breeana Nykole

Today we’d like to introduce you to Breeana Nykole.

Hi Breeana, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I’m an independent curator and interdisciplinary artist with a passion for synthesizing visuals and narratives. My practice is rooted in Black creative expression and cultural preservation and my work takes place in the sphere of textile art, design, curatorial works, archival projects, and community. Through art and collaborative creative projects with artists, writers, and organizers, I intend to collectively serve as a catalyst and facilitator for illumination and collective shifts.

I am also the founder and director of SYLA STUDIO an interdisciplinary studio dedicated to amplifying Black narratives through exhibitions, residencies, and community. By engaging in various perceptions, SYLA aims to stimulate conversation, consciousness, and community while providing a space for Black artists, writers, and curators to express their multidimensional narratives and experiences.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I would say my challenge is similar to many. Balance and navigation. Doing your heart’s work while balancing life and navigating in a society that attempts to enforce weight, pressures, limitations, and pain onto Black and POC communities is an ongoing challenge in itself. It’s important, well, necessary really, to be able to prioritize healing and balance that with a form of collective work. Having a community to assist with resources, encouragement, elevation, and simple joy is just as important.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Curating gives me the opportunity to spotlight creative Black and POC forces while celebrating their individual stories and giving their stories the space to resonate with others. It’s so important to see these works in their truest form and give them the credit that is so deserved. Curating is an act of education, preservation, archiving, and celebrating.

My artistic practice is mainly sewing fabric and yarn into a canvas and assembling a whole. Sewing brings repetition and creates a meditative and grounding rhythm. I use 100% cotton and 100% wool for multiple reasons, one being for historical and cultural purposes and the other simply because of the emotion that is triggered by the touch; the material’s softness, comfort, and warmth. It’s a process of disassembling and reassembling to make a new whole which is very much aligned to a process of self-actualization, healing, release, and rebirth.

With SYLA STUDIO, I wanted to create a space to amplify Black narratives through artistic practice – I use “amplify” very intentionally because of course Black creative expression has always existed, I wanted it to be magnified and celebrated. I chose to focus on visual and literary works because of my familial roots but also because the two practices speak to and inspire one another. It’s important for people who have been historically and consistently mis/underrepresented to be highlighted in their true, bright, complex, dynamic, unavoidable light.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Personal Photo: Miriha Austin (@monakahlo) Additional Photos: A Little Heavy on the Right, Wool sewn on canvas, 2020 Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair (series), Wool sewn on canvas, 2019 Kya Lou, Aunt Ida and Uncle Clarence (2017). From exhibit “Marginalized Voices” organized by SYLA STUDIO curated by Breeana Nykole Reboyah, mami nyanga, 2019. photo collage. From exhibit “As a Form of” organized by SYLA STUDIO curated by Breeana Nykole Keylah Mellon, Roots | Haitian Flag Day in Flatbush (2015). From exhibit “Marginalized Voices” organized by SYLA STUDIO curated by Breeana Nykole Tarah Douglas, Dierra Bynum-Reid (Studies of Jahyne series), 2017, photography. From exhibit “Marginalized Voices” organized by SYLA STUDIO curated by Breeana Nykole

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