In honor of Black History Month, we have turned the spotlight to the arts to represent Charlotte natives that are making a positive impact on both our culture and our city today. This week, we celebrate the work of the visionary artist, Sevin Nakima, better known as Garden of Journey.
Growing up in the Carolinas, Nakima has always been fascinated by nature and the ecosystems we thrive in. Her illustrations became elements of biodiversity, accenting the wonders of wildlife and flora. Her work is an intersection of gorgeous colors, geometric shapes, double exposure, and life. Garden of Journey is the shield she uses to tribute lessons on fulfillment, wellness, and beauty through visual language. Her subjects counteract cultural and societal stereotypes with imagery that emphasize the African and Indigenous diaspora and a heroic stance that portrays the resilience of women. With soulful and vibrant narratives paying homage to the history and future of life. Nakima grew up learning about key movements, such as the Harlem Renaissance, Pan Africanism, the Civil Rights movement, and Black Panther Party. These waves in history granted insight to fight for freedom, justice, and equality that have been pledged throughout American history.
Nakima has also taken influence from artistic explorations that transformed Europe, such as the Impressionist movement, Expressionism, and the Italian Renaissance. Renowned artists and activists, such as, Angela Davis, Nina Simone, Langston Hughes, John Biggers, Frida Kahlo, Romare Bearden, and Alice Walker are just a few to name who influenced the perspective behind her works today. One element I found fascinating about what motivates Nakima, was how music is one of her biggest influences in her creative process. Music is a way for Nakima to flow into design freely with musicians like Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar, Rapsody, J Dilla, OutKast, Miriam Makeba, and Stevie Wonder, being a few she resonates with.
Currently, in the Charlotte community, Nakima is tapping into public arts. She brands her work as “artivism” (art-activism) and aims to drive social and political consciousness by bringing attention to the importance of diversity. With hopes of establishing murals around the city with impactful meanings that generate conversations and connections, Nakima wants to share her resources and art that can serve a purpose. As Nakima told me, “I feel the artistic and cultural climate in Charlotte can be very dry, there are more investments in apartments and breweries that cater to the nine to five hustle. I am so thankful to be surrounded by creatives who see the potential of the better Charlotte. My goal for the future is to open up new avenues to connect people through art and allow them to experience a sense of community. As a woman of color, my role as an artist also becomes teacher and advocate. We bring life to our work.”
When we asked Nakima what Black History Month meant to her, she responded with, “Though it is significant to have observance of Black History Month, we all need to dig deeper to expose the true history of the contribution that Black people have provided to America and throughout the world. I was shocked learning that slaves only made up six percent of the population and yet delivered fifty percent of the nation’s economy. There have to be stronger examples of our sacrifice because we normally skim over crucial details and stick with Martin Luther King had a dream.” Hoping to shed some light in Charlotte on Black culture, currently, Nakima is tapping into murals and exhibitions within our city.
In 2018, Nakima would like to collaborate with artists of different mediums to portray features of justice and environmentalism through artwork that represents the world. As she says, “There is a world beyond the one we consume and we as people are only a fraction of life on Earth. It’s imperative we witness the beauty of our differences so we can take steps to build a promising future for all.” You can see the Garden of Journey’s work illuminating the walls of North Davison Street in NoDa, at Camp North End, Warehouse 242 and at Bennu Gardens.
Alexis Zarycki is your average girl with the hopes of leaving an everlasting impact on the world. Follow her on Instagram @official_lexpaige