December 2, 2020

Black Artists Series – Tasha White

by Reflct Media in Black Artists Series

My name is Tasha White, and I was born in Portland, Oregon. I moved to Detroit, Michigan when I was 12 years old. I studied Visual Arts at the Detroit School of Arts and eventually went to the University of Michigan where I studied Art and Design. Now, I am a wife and a mother of three children. Art, for me, is a way to find myself, explore who I am outside of just being a wife and a mother. I’m not saying that those roles are barriers, but they have an impact on my life and identity. Art gives me a way to expand beyond those roles.

I would consider myself to be a visual artist. I can draw, paint, and I dabble in graphic design in regards to things like designing logos. I am most comfortable with drawing, but I recently branched out and decided to try new mediums, and I have grown fond of painting. I think I like both painting and drawing the most.

My work is inspired by my children. I want to be an example for them. I want to show them how to express themselves in a positive manner.  I want them to grow up and feel like they can do what they love to do and express themselves how they want because they know their mom did it. Another inspiration would be my mother. She always pushed me in this and I don’t know how deep I would be into art if it wasn’t for her. I remember how she would hang up my pictures on the walls of her house and it was like a little house museum. People would come to our house and ask, “Who did that piece?” And she would exclaim proudly, “My daughter!” Lastly, I think other Black artists inspire me. Seeing how other black artists tell their stories and express themselves is an inspiration.

Art has always been a part of me ever since I was little. I used to draw little characters from the cartoons I watched. It wasn’t solidified for me until I moved to Detroit and got to study it in high school. That’s when I really became more involved with it.  With Detroit having a large black population, I learned to love myself in my own skin and my art was a way for me to express that love.

When people see my art, I want them to feel inspired. I went to an artist showcase last November to display some of my work and the vibe was amazing! Being surrounded by creatives who are doing their thing and pushing out so much positive energy was an amazing environment to be a part of. I feel deeply that I want to recreate that for people interacting with my work. I want people to be inspired, to keep moving forward, and continue to share their stories. I also want to create opportunities for other artists to showcase their work. COVID-!9 has put a halt to that for now, but I really want to inspire the next generation of artists and push them to be more than what they are.

The biggest barrier that I had to overcome was learning about my identity and who I was. Like I said earlier, I grew up in Portland, Oregon, and I was used to being around lots of white people. My dad moved us to Europe for about three years when I was five, and there, I was surrounded by a lot of Dutch folk. It wasn’t until I moved to Detroit and lived in a predominantly Black community that I got more exposed to Black culture. That was an experience in itself because I had people asking me why I talked so proper or why I did things a certain way. My family and the school I attended allowed me to really hone in on who I was and gave me the opportunity to learn to love myself.

I believe that Black people are some of the most creative people on this earth. We are some powerful people, and if we just support each other, we can overcome boundaries and stereotypes meant to oppress us. I think we get distracted by the mixed messages out there that we start to believe that we cannot be successful, but really if we get the right kind of support, then we can break barriers. We can be the kings and queens we were destined to be.

Black artists should be celebrated year round because Black art is Black culture. It is a representation of who we are and who we are to become. Our art is our informal teacher. We can learn so much from it. It teaches us about our culture and what we fight for. Celebrating Black artists is celebrating Black life and celebrating Black community, and that should be done all the time.

Tasha White, Visual Artist
Detroit, MI

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