Article written by Arts NC State/Nonprofit Leadership Course Intern Casey Cassinelli
Britney Symone (Senior, Graphic Design ‘19) is a digital painter who is quickly establishing herself as one of NC State’s prominent student artists. She won the Visual Artist Award in April of 2019 for her digital painting Dark Skin Holds History, and was recently recognized at the Bowers Medal and Student Artist Award Ceremony on November 1.
Symone’s work is being shown in the lobby of Thompson Hall during the run of The Colored Museum from November 14-24 (visit go.ncsu.edu/coloredmuseum to get your tickets for the play). Symone’s art assembles a narrative of women of color and religious imagery, which is one of the many themes of The Colored Museum.
The Colored Museum is a satirical play that takes you on a journey through African American history through exhibits that come alive and all have different narratives. When asked how the play relates to Symone’s artwork, she explained, “The subjects of the pieces are all Black and each one is inspired by a different time period or season.” Read more about her artwork below in my interview with her.
How does your art connect to your identity and how do you make sure your identity shows through your work?
My art directly relates to my identity because I create art that gives people with my same identity – Black and femme – more visibility in the art world. In the last year, I have built up a narrative that I hold close to my heart. I have gradually created a style and have come to terms with the art that I feel this world needs more of. My digital paintings comment on the stereotypes that women of color face. I aim to challenge the idea that women of color – specifically Black women – cannot be soft, delicate, and emotional and stand strong in these traits. The current political and social scene in America is a war zone for Black women and I want to create work that allows us to take comfort in our emotions and find solace with each other in our shared experiences. I hope to create a community in which women of color can come together and be emotional, vulnerable, and unaffected by negative stereotypes.
How did you decide between digital painting and traditional painting and how is it different?
I began digital art on a whim in 2015 shortly after coming to the decision of pursuing graphic design as my career. I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember and had a solid grasp on traditional painting and drawing before I tried digital art, and I think that shows in my work today, as I follow a lot of the techniques I picked up from traditional art. I think that digital painting is often seen as less than traditional because it seems “easier” to do. I will say that though it is much easier for me to create more work because my tools are portable and digital, it still takes up to 15 hours for me to finish a piece because of the amount of detail and patience they require. I’ve always believed that art is something that anyone can grasp with practice, but digital art can be more accessible at times than traditional.