Get to Know Oasa DuVerney: One of NMWA's Women to Watch
Tell us about your path as an artist.
My path as an artist has always been pretty clear to me. Work to make money and make art to feel free. It wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s and pregnant taking classes at CUNY that I realized I needed to figure out a path to having a career in the arts so that I could be better equipped to care for my family and still be an artist.
At the time this meant going to college and then graduate school for an MFA; and although I do regret the student loans that helped keep food on the table and the lights on, it still seems to have been time well spent. Since then I’ve worked in education and design which has complimented my art practice quite well. All of these practices are grounded in the belief that creative expression can be used as a tool to build community and work towards complete liberation for everyone.
How would you describe your style?
Live and Direct; there is no time to beat around a bush or make things easy for everyone. Also difficult, not everyone wants to see a six foot drawing of geriatric white men (Trump, Putin,and Jeff Sessions), especially made by a Black woman. On the flip side of that most Black women didn't want to see another xenophobic, racist misogynist president, but here we are.
What inspires you in your work?
The communities that I come from inspire me the most. For a few years, I’ve held on to this one memory of Jourvet when I am making work. The memory is of watching an older woman douse a cop car with baby powder and then dance on the car. This was a completely freeing moment probably for her but also for me to witness.
When I work I try to hold onto those moments where oppression is subverted by creative expression in hope that it can come across in the work that I am making. I always carry with me the belief that creative expression is cathartic and my purpose as an artist is to stay true to that experience.
What is done with the work after that is of little consideration while I make it. Artistically I have many influences from classical Chinese painting, to hardcore punk and hip-hop music, graphic novels and anti-facist posters.
What are some of your career highlights (so far)?
Maybe: being called a young talented satirist in The New York Times. Definitely: The Brooklyn Hi-Art Machine, which is a collaborative public art project that I did with my friend/neighbor/collaborator Mildred Beltre for the last nine years that's still going strong. Making art outside of what can be contained in a exhibition space is absolutely life affirming as an artist.
Also, definitely building a bicycle out of paper as a failed monument to everything that failed Gavin Cato. It took about four months and three attempts to build and 1.5 minutes to destroy. And absolutely being nominated as a NMWA Woman To Watch.
Get to know more about Oasa at the National Museum of Women in the Arts Women to Watch 2020 event on July 11th. The event will also include opening remarks from our very own Marianne Howatson.
You can also discover more about Oasa DuVerney here.