Meet Brina Jeffries– the fresh faced, petite media studies student stomping the concrete jungles in chunky heeled boots and hoop earrings as big as her face. Each and everyday, Brina daringly pairs a mixture of different prints, textures, colors to create a cohesive, off-the-runway look that others can’t help but admire. She has an eye for art and, luckily for us, her eye-catching fashion is only a taste of the immense skill oozing out of this tiny girl. Like her wardrobe, Brina directly translates her experimental, forward-thinking style from brush to canvas. Her pieces focus on highlighting the beauty in people of color. Check out my interview with her below to see how Brina is the epitome of an artistic icon.
Q: How would you describe your style as an artist?
A: I like to call myself a “fusion artist”. My goal is to use old style techniques and looks but create in a way that is relevant to the troubled times that we live in now. I use gold leaf which has been used for centuries, dating back to Renaissance art with Catholic depictions of saints. However, my goal is to speak of this same respect and vision for people of color. I use gold leaf as a halo around my models to depict their beauty. My main medium is chalk pastel on wood which again is a very old style of the fine arts. But the way in which I use these colors are new. I don’t see skin tone, I see undertones. Like a said a “fusion” of the new and the old.
Q: Who inspires you to create? Name your fashion/art idols.
A: In terms of creating, a lot of factors come into play. I am firstly inspired by the models i choose. I mostly pick people that I know or have had a conversation with before because it gives me a feel of their essence which transfers onto the piece itself. Artist that inspire are absolutely Kehinde Wiley who I was actually blessed with the chance of meeting. He is just so influential in bringing black bodies to the forefront of the art world which is always a mission for me.
Q: What personal values influence your pieces the most?
A: Definitely the lack of black art. All art is beautiful – don’t get me wrong, but I believe representing people of color in mainstream media artwork is influential in changing this narrative of how black people see ourselves in this world. That is why I make what I call “black art”, which also includes people of color, because I believe we are underrepresented in the museums and that flows over to the lack of the arts in black communities. It’s all a chain reaction.
Q: How do you feel about the phrase “dress-to-impress”? Do you identify with that phrase in terms of how you choose to dress?
A: As a self identified artist and black woman, there is a lot I have going on that potentially work against me in a white male dominated world. My ways of dressing and style are the way in which I choose to show the world my respect for myself along with my confidence in how I believe the world should respect me. It is also just fun!
Q: What future passion projects are you working on, or would like to create one day?
A: I was recently asked to do a mural for someone’s apartment as well as a portrait commission which I will be working on towards late summer, early fall.
Q: What is the most challenging thing for you in your art journey?
A: Pushing myself to do more. I always want more with my art and finding that in myself has proven difficult. Especially coming from an arts high school in which I had my own studio space and we had exhibitions, to coming to university where you are on your own in New York City, which is one of the most art inhibited spaces in the world. Also – feeling validation with my artwork and trying not to compare it to those around me.
Q: What does art mean to you?
A: This is such a broad question. Honestly, art is my escape from all of the foolery around me and the stresses of life. I get to quite literally escape and be by myself for an entire day. It’s bliss. It helps start my week. It is perhaps my one true love.
Q: When did your artistic potential become fully realized? Was there a defining moment that led you take your art hobby more seriously?
A: It’s funny because most people would say that there wasn’t a defining moment and it happened over time. But for me, there are two moments in my life where I know without them, I would not be at the place I am now. The first one is when I was accepted into my first art school in the fourth grade. Everyone does arts and crafts and whatnot in elementary so I was always into that, but going into an art school in the fourth grade was daunting. We had to put together a portfolio, which I did with the help of my mom, and go in for an audition. Thinking about it, it was a lot for 7 and 8 years old. The next moment happened at a more mature time in my life. I decided that I wanted to go to an esteemed art camp during my summer into junior year of high school. This most definitely changed the way I create, see, and overall my love for the fine arts. It was an intensive program where we painted every day from 9-6 with an hour break for lunch, and I loved every minute of it.
Q: What platforms can we access to view/purchase/inquire about your artwork?
A: I recently made an art page which is @art.brinajeffries. Follow me!