Artist Nyela
I am Nyela, painter, print-maker, mixed media artist.

I am not sure where my initial interest in art came from. Maybe it was the murals that seem to be almost everywhere in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA, or the stories I felt I needed to tell to help keep an emotional foothold in times I’ve struggled and words seemed inadequate. Regardless of its source, art has become an indelible part of my life.

Artist’s Statement
In painting, printmaking, collage, and mixed media, I examine my own life. Through this lens I hope to explore themes universal to the human experience: silence, separation, love, fear, growth, birth, rebirth. I seek freedom, healing, and life. In trying to find my voice, I endeavor, as Frida Kahlo said, “to paint my own reality” as a woman, as a black person, as queer, as a sister, as a lover, a friend, a daughter…as me.


I am fascinated with the surreal, the symbolic, the human figure, and the personal narrative, as well as with the shared experience we each add to the human collective. I am inspired by the act of creating and by the tasks of being and becoming that are at once deeply personal and inherently universal. I am nourished as well by both the ancient and contemporary ideas and art of the many cultures born of the African diaspora.


Having just wrapped up a year of service as a City Year (a program of AmeriCorps) corps member, I believe I have found a focus for my art. I want my art to do service. I want to work alongside individuals and communities to tell their stories and inspire action. I am currently researching ways to do this. Maybe it will begin with helping to paint some of those murals I previously mentioned, but I have a feeling that there is more; there just has to be.


What are my goals?
My biggest goal is finding ways that my art can do service. I believe that the first way I can do that is to allow my experiences as one who has served to inform and inspire new art, as well as doing the research to find out ways I can get involved with those who are already using art to serve.

I want to apply to residencies that encourage art-making as part of the teaching and learning experience.

I want to begin to examine my own relationship to myself as a sexual being through my art. I have experienced much in my early life that skewed my perception of myself in this regard, and I am only beginning to realize that there is much more of me to uncover, to cherish, and to celebrate.


What inspires me?
Artists and thinkers I’ve read and studied: Frida Kahlo, Faith Ringgold, Audre Lorde, Richard Wright, Diego Rivera, Kara Walker, bell hooks, Pablo Picasso, Kerry James Marshall, Gauguin, Goya, Dali, Jung.

I am also inspired by stories: those I read in books, newspapers, see from my front window, and gather from conversations with friends and strangers.

I am inspired by music, art, history, fantasy, my dreams, my nightmares. In short, everything and nothing.

Artist Nyela

Nyela: As I Am, Reborn:

The Rebirth of Nyela on Etsy:

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