Photography: Kia Dyson
When rising fashion designers like Reuben Reuel solicit you to capture their garb, or you get featured on The Cut, and other influential sites – think Beyonce.com and Afropunk – your work obviously ranks as masterful. Fine Artist Kia Dyson transcribes what it means to be beautiful, confident, and black through her photography, digital art, and collages. Upon spotting her work (on instagram), I felt so compelled to delve into the messages depicted in her powerful images. Dyson, a native of Baltimore, cites her mother as being very instrumental to her creative expression by encouraging her to be herself and “do my art.” From there, her experimentation commenced, first, with customizing her clothes, then dancing, and a successful stint at modeling. But styling at a photography studio was the gateway leading Kia to uncover her true passion: creating spectacular imagery.
She immersed herself wholeheartedly and cemented her objective with a risky move to New York City. In agreement with her, Dyson connected this to a bigger idea that women, specifically women of color, require more fostering of their rebelliousness. What’s more, Kia’s insightful views on Black Culture trended throughout our entire exchange. She explains that “most of [her] work revolves around black people” and continued that “because I’m a black woman, I know how hard it is to find yourself in images.” These beliefs act as a guide to her finding inspiration, along with her love of traveling. We discussed one of her most recent visits, a trip to the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, and inspiration consumed the artist. She was especially captivated by quotes from slave children who described witnessing their parents get treated horribly. Dyson’s dedication to understanding culture is admirable, yes. But the way her art translate these experiences require something more potent than appreciation.
Kia Dyson’s artworks are visual tools we can use to strengthen political discussions about Black culture while others advocate against discriminatory beauty standards. I love her brilliant combination of abstraction with realism, and her effective mashup of vibrant hues with neutral tones. Her “Martin” piece contrasts a defining social movement with a recent one. Essentially, this image conveys how much (and how little) conditions have improved for people of color. In a world where imagery and perception has never been more significant –
it’s reassuring to know that artists are truly acknowledging our existence and are telling our diverse stories.
When sincerity and consciousness fuses with passion and unwavering creativity, beautiful things happen. Cliche, but nonetheless applicable in this case. For me, Kia Dyson epitomizes this notion. Beauty, Afrocentrism, style, and social justice are not just themes here; they are much needed representations of modern black culture, done aesthetically of, course. Keep up with Kia on instagram @iamkiad. Art work can be purchased on her site.