I’m Naomi. I’m 24 years old and originally from Detroit, Michigan. I live in Dearborn now. I am a visual artist. I paint, and I specialize in acrylic painting. I did go to school for graphic design, so I do digital art every now and then, but it’s something leisurely to do.
What got me into painting is going to things like Painting with A Twist. Overall, starting in my art, I have to credit that to a couple of teachers of mine: my kindergarten teacher, my third-grade teacher, and my high school art teacher. And then also my brother, I always have to give him the biggest thanks because he’s the one who taught me how to draw basically. So, if it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have as much skill. I would have probably picked it up anyway because I’m lefthanded. So typically, you automatically have that creativity to tap into (lol), but it’s just always something I wanted to try. I did watercolor before, but acrylic seemed a little more solid. So, I went with that.
The escape and the freedom that creating brings inspires my work because being in the world sometimes makes you cramp yourself and restrict yourself. When I create, I have this peace and this freedom, and it’s really become my happy place. And so, I would say that inspires me the most and what gets me going to create. And then also when people see my art, and then they want to paint, and they’re like, “I really want to get into painting. That’s so cool. I would love to create something like that.” I love that. So, I would say those two are my biggest inspirations.
I hope when people look at my art, they feel that peace, love and happiness that I feel when I create. When I look back at my old pieces, I can still feel that energy that I had when I was actually painting. I have noticed that when my parents or even just other people look at it, they just have this lightweight energy on them. And when they look at my work, it just makes me happy because often, people think that art always has to be super political or super deep. And it’s not always like that. Sometimes it is, but I just hope that people can feel welcomed into the art scene and that it’s not just something exclusively for people like Picasso.
I wouldn’t say there’s too many barriers I’ve faced other than my own mental blockage and fear of jumping into the art world. I would say the biggest thing so far that I faced is finding a solid community of Black artists that also paint, or just Black creatives in general. It took me a little bit to get into a group. Twitter was a very great tool to boost that connection. I have met maybe 20 artists, and we all collectively come together and share our art with each other. Before, though, it did take a while to not feel alone in the art world.
Supporting Black artists is very important because we were kind of stripped away of our history and knowing about our actual roots and everything, and I would say supporting us now helps create that history for future generations. It helps us to keep creating the importance that we’re connected to. Like, we’re creating history now whether we know it or not. And having that support, that encourages us to go forward. So, I think supporting our local artists reminds us that we were created to create. We need our voices to be heard, and art can really express that.
Simply put, we don’t stop being Black at the end of Black History Month. We don’t end at the end of February, and we don’t start being Black at the beginning of February. So, I think it’s just that simple. I’m Black year-round. Celebrate me year-round. Black History Month should be amplified, but I think celebration needs to be year-around. We definitely need that support and that encouragement. When we’re in that creative space, the possibilities are endless.
Naomi Peterson, Painter
The Black Artists Series highlights local Black artists and their journeys. Due to COVID-19, we’ve turned our original video series into a blog-style series. The blog is fully in the artist’s own words.