Thinkspace is pleased to present Bay Area artist Bianca Walker showing new works in group exhibition “Perspectives.”
Walker uses rich ink drips as an integral part of their visual language while incorporating archival imagery of the African Diaspora, activating a history they can see being erased.
Our interview with Bianca Walker discusses the impact of cinema censorship, exploring the history of Red Summer, and their creative process.
For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m from California and started studying art when I started college in Louisiana about 8 years ago. I transferred from community college to Grambling State University, where I received an education rooted in Black Art. From there, my practice has evolved and adopted methods that honor those foundations, such as drip painting and collage. I like to focus on the artistic conversation before me so that I can add to it effectively so when I paint I’m always determined to find and contribute something new.
What does a day in the studio look like for you? How do you structure your days?
Studio days are every day so they’re always different. Painting comes first so being in school I usually plan to paint around classes or GA hours which are usually filled with me doing stop motion or research like reading or watching documentaries. On days with classes I wake up early and paint before I get too busy, but on free days I get to paint all day. The university is right on the lake so I skate back and forth from the studio and lake and vibe until I feel I have to step away from the work for the day.
Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?
I wake up with a lot of energy, so hopping up and listening to music on the way to the studio always puts me in a good mood. I let myself build up on the way there thinking about the work and what the goal of the piece I’m working on is and by the time I’m in the studio all those thoughts and energy get smacked onto the canvas.
A part of your creative process is going through archival photos. Have you ever come across an image that has sent you down a rabbit hole of historical exploration? What did you discover?
Some of the very first images I came across have still affected me until this day. Very graphic images of the Red Summer were some of the first portraits I painted while adopting my current style. The imagery of my people burning and being brutalized made me angry. They still make me angry, and I educated myself on the riots and the brutality and the extent that white supremacy has gone to suffocate us. The interaction with the photographs matured me as an artist to make sure to approach all of the photos from then on with the respect and energy they deserve.
Do you think editing out racist scenes from old films or streaming services removing problematic movies from their platforms hurts or helps white supremacy?
It definitely helps white supremacy. The history of cinema had the power to revive the Klan, and that element of whiteness, especially in America and the view it provides the rest of the world about blackness and other minorities shouldn’t be erased but confronted. Erasure isn’t correcting the problem; it’s omitting it.
What do you have playing in the background while you’re in the studio – music, movies/tv shows, podcasts?
I always have music playing in the studio. I make sure to charge my headphones every night, so I won’t disturb my classmates since I work out in the open, but on weekends and holidays, I let it blast! It’s definitely an integral part to my practice in keeping me hyped.
“Perspective” is a group exhibition along with three other talented artists. Could you share an element of your fellow exhibitors’ work that inspires, challenges, or intrigues you?
There’s a strong sense of whimsy in all of my fellow exhibitors’ work which is always refreshing to see when expressing the black state. To see ourselves and it not feel heavy or draining is always inspirational for me and the goals I have for my happiness.
Do you have a habit or routine that helps you balance your artistic process, student life, and general hustle?
I like to keep myself on my toes, so I try not to get comfortable in one routine. I adapt very quickly, especially since my class schedule changes every semester. Sometimes I’ll paint at night, sometimes I’ll do it in the morning. I’ll do my homework at home during lunch or in a gallery. It just depends on the day, and I love that aspect about living a creative life. Being confident in my practice helps me not worry about what the day brings because I know I’ll fill it with art eventually.
If you could have any skill downloaded into your brain, what would it be and why?
A photographic memory, so that I’d never have to read anything twice or take notes.
If you could have a dinner party with 5 people, dead or alive, who would they be? What would be on the menu? And what is your icebreaker question?
Faith Ringgold, Anita Baker, Audre Lorde, Thelma Golden, and my Mom. The menu would be mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, corn, bbq ribs, roasted chicken, cornbread, and a 7-up cake with vanilla bean ice cream on the side. Icebreaker question: What did you want to be when you were younger?