1. This is Harmonia Rosales, a 33-year-old artist living in Chicago.
She’s been in tune with her abilities since she was very young. “I’ve been creating art since my motor skills kicked in,” she told BuzzFeed News.
2. “I was raised in a creative environment,” she said. Rosales also noted that “artistic expression was floating in the air” in her household growing up. Her mother is an artist and her father, a musically inclined guy, played the congas.
Rosales credited her parents for sparking her interest in the arts. “Kids imitate their parents and my parents were great models for me. I repeated visuals of my mother hunched over her art table churning out illustration after illustration starting with a blank canvas and a vision of a full one. I often would crawl under my mother’s art table and track her movements, her brushstrokes, her ideas, her illustrations. She would let me experiment with all her expensive oils and brushes, never once telling me what to paint or how, but letting me find my own style.”
3. One of Rosales’ pieces, which she calls “The Creation of God” recently went viral.
The piece is based on Michelangelo ‘s “The Creation of Adam,” famously displayed in the Sistine Chapel. “I wanted to take a significant painting, a widely recognized painting that subconsciously or consciously conditions us to see white male figures as powerful and authoritative and flip the script, establish a counter narrative,” she told BuzzFeed News, elaborating on why she decided to make reimagine the well-known work of art with black women.
4. Says Rosales, “White figures are a staple in classic art featured in major museums. They are the ‘masters’ of the masterpieces. Why should that continue?”
“Replacing the white male figures — the most represented— with people I believe have been the least represented can begin to recondition our minds to accept new concepts of human value. … If I can touch even a small group of people and empower them through the power of art, then I’ve succeeded in helping to change the way we see the world. … And when you consider that all human life came out of Africa, the Garden of Eden and all, then it only makes sense to paint God as a black woman, sparking life in her own image.”
5. “In the essence of Picasso, my whole life,” Rosales said when asked how long it took her to create her latest piece. “Every skill, life experience, and emotion has led me straight to this particular piece and every piece thereafter.”
6. And the way in which her ideas form, and the way she’s acted on them, is a very organic process.
“I have an idea, it might not be fully thought out, but first the idea. Then I let it marinate. Often I’ll place a blank canvas by my bed so that I may wake up and sleep to it. And, while I sleep, it speaks to me,” Rosales said. She also said that she doesn’t sketch her creations, everything happens at once on the canvas by which they are brought to life. “My subjects morph and their expressions change as they speak to me and reveal themselves to me. Sometimes I will go over an area multiple times until they virtually come to life.”
7. Rosales’ work definitely has a recurring theme: women of color. “I paint women darker then me because I want no one to mistake who I’m representing. I paint what I know, who I identify with,” she told BuzzFeed News.
“We have been underrepresented and misrepresented for so long that I feel I should paint to empower us. We need powerful images for our youth to see.”
8. Her daughter is another reason why Rosales is passionate about the work she does. “I want my daughter to grow up proud of her curls and coils, her brown skin, and for her to identify as a woman of color, a woman of value.”
9. “What I do with my art contributes to the way she and all other little girls like her will come to recognize themselves.”
10. Rosales’ “The Creation of God” will be part of an exhibited series in the near future.
She also plans to work with fellow artist Aldis Hodge on a series about persecution that will debut at the end of the year. “This particular series will relate to the masses,” she said.