Meet Marilyn Louis, Fabulous N’ Frugal’s DreamGirl of the week. Marilyn is young, intense, and creative (don’t just bypass Vulvas of Color, a tribute to the beauty and power of our va-jayjays showcased below) and I had the pleasure of meeting Marilyn at the Soup N’ Swap event held in December of last year. Like I’ve said before, swaps are not just for getting some new digs, it’s about swapping ideas and being witness to the greatness of our women-of-colorness. 🙂 Marilyn shared some her story with Fabulous N’ Frugal.
Let the inspiration marinate...
What inspires your art?
I was inspired to paint when I decided to reconnect with a part of myself that had been lost and forgotten about. As a child, I loved drawing, painting and sculpting. By the time I got to junior high and high school, I didn’t get to fully explore that side of me and wasn’t encouraged to. It wasn’t until I got to college that my artwork took on new meaning.
In my junior year of college, I took Intro to Women’s Studies class at Brooklyn College. My professor had shown us a documentary film called, “Killing Us Softly” by Jean Kilbourne. The film examined the destructive images of women in advertising, its impact on pop culture and how it affects young girls and women’s self-esteem. The film left such a remarkable and indelible impact on me that immediately after viewing it, I immediately knew right then and there what I wanted to paint.
I wanted to paint black women. I wanted to paint black women of all sizes, skin tones, and hair textures. My canvas became a medium where I can create alternative, complex, and multi-dimensional images of women of African descent and give visibility to those of us who are invisible.
I know that you are an artist. But inevitably, you also have to be a businesswoman. How have you been able to promote your work? How have you balanced the business of creating with the business of making money from your creativity?
Being a savvy businesswoman has been a challenge because I am now learning how to promote and sell my art work as I go along on my own. Anytime I have had an exhibit where my work is featured, I always create a Facebook event where I invite as many people as possible to come. That has been my way of getting the word out there.
I haven’t received much guidance in marketing and promotion but am looking to connect with people who can help me make money off of my work. This past year, I showcased my paintings in over five exhibits and am looking for other avenues and more opportunities to make myself known.
One of the first steps I took recently was joining Twitter. Alter much hesitation, I finally built a twitter profile and am looking to make my presence online known and find like-minded artists, thinkers and activists to follow me. I’m currently at @MLo_Artist on twitter.
What has been one of your biggest setbacks as an artist and how have you overcome it?
My biggest setback has been not establishing enough of a strong presence and a name to draw a buzz and influence people to buy my work. As an up-and-coming and not-yet-known artist, it’s challenging to make the right connections and know the right people as well.
Also, the thing about me is that, in the last few years that I was in college, I had discovered a lot of skills and talents about myself that I do not think I would have discovered had I not have the college experience. I had been bitten by the acting bug and fell in love with musical theater. After graduating from college, this past year, i am working on to pursuing a performing arts career as a triple threat: singing, dancing and acting.
Before I started college, I was a dancer and worked as a teaching artist. The visual arts didn’t come into my life until my junior year of college. By the time I took Women’s Studies, my art took on another level. It became very personal. I was driven and on a mission to give women who look like me subjectivity and meaning in a medium where we normally do not see black woman in.
As a result of discovering these other talents, my painting took a backseat. As of today, it has been more than a year since I last painted anything. However, I still dance and am researching various avenues on how I can continue to learn the craft of singing, dancing and acting. Right now, I am working on a memoir about how the performing and visual arts and Women’s Studies had an impact on my development as a young black female.