Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Artful Design of Afrikanation: Introducing Ebony Iman Dallas

Artist and Designer, Ebony Iman Dallas

The Artful Design of Afrikanation: Introducing Ebony Iman Dallas
by Jocelyn M. Goode, photos by Ebony I. Dallas

Throughout history, many artists have faced the challenge of applying their creative skills towards a tangible and relevant purpose. While art has the ability to evoke emotion and inspire action, it also can be devoid of direct meaning making it no more than a pleasurable yet superfluous commodity. Managing the freedom of expression against the purpose of resolution has been a balancing act that Ebony Iman Dallas embraces with her bourgeoning project, Afrikanation Art Exchange.

In the Spring of 2009, Ebony completed a Master of Fine Arts degreein Design from the California College of the Arts. The Afrikanation Art Exchange began as her thesis project designed to unite all people of African decent and supporters through art for community activism. In a recent interview with FAIM Internet Magazine Ebony states, "many of the challenges among African descendants worldwide are very similar and by joining hands, solutions can be created to dissolve them." The project is an organized collaboration between artists in Oakland, CA and artists in Burkina Faso and Mali.

Ebony (right) conducting an interview with an artist
On Friday, July 17, 2009 in Oakland, CA, emerging and established artists ranging from spoken word to musicians will share their art at the second Afrikanation event. Local community activists will speak and culinary masters will provide spicy jerk chicken and BBQ while raising funds for Art Esteem and Project Open Hand. Art Esteem is an organization that provides art therapy to over 3,500 Bay Area youth and Project Open Hand provides meals for over 2,500 people per year living with HIV/AIDS in the Bay Area. There is no cost to attend but donations will be taken to support these causes. Participating artists and vendors have agreed to donate 10% of sales to these organizations to continue their missions.
One of the speakers at the first Afrikanation event
Ebony's endeavors have already been received with success. The first Afrikanation event was entitled Pan-African Potluck and was simply an invitation for people to share artwork, food and music. This also took place at Coffee with a Beat in Oakland, CA with about seventy people in attendance. Local newspapers covered the event praising it for its originality and inclusiveness.

However, not everyone has been able to grasp the true purpose of Ebony's project. It is not often that artists of the African diaspora are the center of artistic dialogues. Because the project has such a specific focus, some dissuaders feel left out. When asked about her challenges with Afrikanation Art Exchange, Dallas shares, "this project may seem “exclusive” to some. The point of this project cannot be defined in such simple terms. It is a challenge to unify all people of African descent as well as supporters in order tackle issues in these communities. One huge issue that I would like to address in a big way is the HIV/AIDS crisis. These problems will not simply disappear by not talking about them. Anyone desiring to help is gladly welcome. "
Art by Ebony Iman Dallas
So what motivates a young artist to take boldly commit to an ambition of this size? Ebony Iman Dallas, originally from Oklahoma City, OK, is of African-American heritage with her mother and stepfather from the US and her father from Somalia. She moved to Oakland in 2004 to work at an advertising firm and soon found herself grappling with deeper issues as a designer and artist. The following is an except from our interview where she reveals her personal journey as a creator and innovator.
Art by Ebony Iman Dallas
FAIM: How would you describe yourself as an artist and your personal art?
EID: As an artist I am always looking for ways to challenge myself. I recently did my first live painting session at an open mic and I must say I was nervous at the thought! I did it because I knew that if I didn’t try it once that I would not know if I would a second time. Now I can say that I gladly would!
Art by Ebony Iman Dallas
FAIM: What are your major influences and sources of inspiration?
EID: Progressive people and spirituality. I know that I am not in this alone and that is the only thing that keeps me going.

Art by Ebony Iman Dallas
FAIM: What is the difference between art and design?
EID: Design is about problem resolution and art is about expressing ideas in a personal way.

FAIM: How do they work together?
EID: I’ve been trying to figure that one out myself! In my personal experience, my most successful design pieces (print and web design) began with art. I usually use charcoal to create iconic images then scan them into the computer and alter them. I am more comfortable using this method rather that going directly into the computer to create. Some people are the opposite, but this is what works for me.

FAIM: What are your greatest lessons learned as an artist and designer?
EID: The art vs. design discussion can stir up fiery conversations but for me it’s about accepting both the artist and designer in me, and not being afraid to admit it.

FAIM: Any advice that you would like to offer?
EID: Take chances. You never know what lies around the corner if you don’t. If you are unhappy with your place in life as it involves a job, relationship or other, take a chance and don’t be afraid to change! What do you have to lose? The only scary part is knowing you will be in the same place if you don’t!

Please go to HYPERLINK "http://www.eidart.com/afrikanation" www.eidart.com/afrikanation for more info or email Ebony at eid@eidart.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment