damali and I have been friends for over a decade and for as long as I have known her, she has been an artist– fixed on giving her thoughts a voice through various media. She is as fiercely political as she is artistic and the dance that the two do is evident in her work. damali’s work is also extremely personal. Her vulnerability seeps through her work making it accessible and functional.
I had the opportunity to have her share her story…
Who is damali abrams as an artist?
i am more evolved as an artist than as an individual. In my art I am far more emotionally honest and brave than I am in everyday life. That may seem to contradict the fact that I make no distinction between art and life but to me it is the same way that we perform one way at work and another way at home alone and another way at a party. My art and everyday life are merely different aspects of my life as a whole.
How does the art world respond to you as an Afro-Caribbean female artist?
This is hard because one can rarely prove that others are responding to us based on different aspects of our identity. However, every single exhibit I have been in has been either curated by a Black person or person of color or a woman. There was one instance where I was in a show that was co-curated by a woman of color and a white man. I think that probably answers your question.
Here is damali performing Dear Diary
What advice would you give to other aspiring women-of-color artists out there?
The same advice I would give to women-of-color in any field: maintain laser-sharp focus and relentless pursuit of your dreams. There will likely be heart-wrenching setbacks. That is part of life. But after the emotional breakdowns (and sometimes during) we just have to keep going. I believe that whatever we dream for ourselves is our calling, whether it is art, law or mathematics, and that no matter what we have to go for it.
What sacrifices, if any, have you made to support your artistry?
I do not think that I have sacrificed anything. Rather I have gained the opportunity to be fully myself. As I mentioned above, my art is the only place where I allow myself to fully be.
damali abrams is a Guyanese-American video and performance artist who lives and works in Queens, NY. She received her BA at New York University and her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. damali was a 2009-10 A.I.R. Gallery fellowship recipient. Her work has been shown in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Memphis, New Orleans, Montpelier, Denver, and Miami. In New York City, her work has been exhibited at MoCADA, A.I.R. Gallery, JCAL, Rush Arts Gallery, BRIC Rotunda Gallery, The Point and NY Studio Gallery, among others. damali is a member of the artist collective tART.