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Meet Ciara Che Callwood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ciara Che Callwood.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
What is my story? Well, my introduction to the art world I must say started at an early age. My maternal uncle who was a graffiti artist under the name “Radio” in New York gifted me my first sketchbook at the age of two, my mom the supplies, my father the genes to be very handy, and my grandmother the wisdom, and well I’ve been creating ever since. In truth, there are still a few empty pages left in that book, and I like to look at it from time to time. Now for some name drops.

I went to the Clinton School for Writers and Artist in New York for middle school being awarded a scholarship to attend a gifted arts weekend program at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) from the age of 12 to 17. I decided at the age of 12 that I wanted to be an Art Therapist. Not your typical career path. I was moved and saw how powerful art was in helping people, so everything in my academic career was geared towards being a therapist, not a full time working artist. I attended Barry University in Miami for undergrad studying Fine Art and Psychology. I used to spend my summer here in Los Angeles (where my mom relocated to in 2004) going to Venice to look at the performers and artists, graduating with a BFA in 2007.

I then returned to New York landing a job at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and starting my masters in Art Therapy program at SVA. But after a semester and a half, I didn’t feel it was for me. So, I did what any young, educated, unemployed English speaker would do. I taught English overseas in Korea for from 2008 to 2009 and absolutely fell in love with teaching people how to find their voice and express themselves. I went back to New York, got my job back at the museum and became a full-time graduate student receiving my masters in TESOL in 2012. I have been teaching adults how to express themselves in English ever since.

Triggered events in my personal life in 2012 to start drawing and painting for myself to get past things. The past three years I started doing more and more “serious” pieces. I am so inspired by my amazing journey and my students for topics and sources of inspiration. Egged on by my family and close friends to seriously pursue my art and use my innate talent I decided last year to build a website and put myself out there. This is all new to me, being a starving artist. I’m more accustomed to being a starving educator lol. My adopted city is giving me confidence, I have shown in a few shows and I put myself out there more. I am in essence starting from scratch. It’s scary. It’s wonderful! it’s perfect! I am really looking forward to seeing myself grow here.

Please tell us about your art.
Nowadays, my inspiration comes from words. I love words. Being an English Language teacher for a decade now, I truly understand the power of words, definitions and, translations have in creating division or unifying people. I start with a noun, usually an abstract noun for example ‘vulnerability’ then I would look it up, find the word root and all of its’ forms. Then from that word find synonyms and people that represent that word. Do some sketches, then voilà I have my piece or series.

What I hope a person would take away after viewing one of my pieces would be a noun or adjective of their own, even if it’s not the one I had in mind. People often ask me if I can I paint in color. Yes. I get asked that quite often because I think they think painting in black and white is the easy way out. I don’t think so. It can be quite tricky to create different textures like hair, metal, skin, fabric with only black and white paint.

But I love working in black, white and shades of gray. It forces one to pay attention to the contrast, the highlights, and the shadows. There’s no color to distract the eye, most importantly black and white are colors that everyone in the world have been exposed to. I’m all about inclusivity.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
I am a fulltime artist in my heart but, I have a regular job to pay the bills. If you don’t have the funds to be fulltime, then don’t try it! It will stress you out. Don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t pay your bills. Having a backup is essential. Personally, knowing the rent is paid keeps my creative juices flowing. I have pieces that I’ve started then put on hold for weeks or months because the funds weren’t there, got too busy, or was too tired to finish by my imaginary deadline.

If I do something every week, cool, once a month great, every other month no problem. I tend to have an idea for something, picking up supplies when I have an extra few dollars then eventually working on the piece. In short, the biggest challenge we face is finding a balance between doing art and financially supporting ourselves. Not many of us have the luxury to just do art.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
Right now, the best place to view my artwork is mainly on my website, my Instagram, my Facebook page, or when I enter a piece in an open exhibition I will post about it. I have a piece that will be on show for Art Share LA’s Summer Salon (06/06/2018 – 07/08/2018) hours 12:00 AM—11:59 PM. I usually do live painting on Instagram and post the stages of my pieces as I am working on them. My subtle way of making you feel “involved” in the process. It’s also great for live feedback.

I am always looking for a gallery to hold a full exhibition or a rotation of my works. That would be great! Trying to host an art opening in my L.A. sized studio apartment with two boxers would not be ideal. But, in the meantime just click, scroll, like, and share. Originals, as well as prints and swag, are all available on all channels.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.ciarache.com
  • Phone: 3473136585
  • Email: ciaracheart@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @ciaracheart
  • Facebook: @ciarachearts

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. Nikki

    June 25, 2018 at 13:35

    Very nice, keep up the great work. Your story is inspirational.
    Your pieces are fabulous

  2. Philip

    June 28, 2018 at 11:05

    This is amazing, I love your work and I wish you the very best in your career!

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