We had the good fortune of connecting with Rejeana V. Black and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Rejeana V., why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I pursued an artistic career after taking my first photography class in ninth grade followed by AP 2D art in my sophomore year, which granted me the opportunity to explore and create my ideas through photography. Since the age of four years-old on my cross-country road trip with my mother from Illinois to California, I have always loved capturing photographs and documenting through a camera lens. In high school, my mother bought me my first DSLR camera, a Canon Rebel t3i. I immediately began creatively directing amateur photo shoots around Los Angeles with my high school friends; creating bodies of work before even understanding what it meant to create a photographic series. I found small gigs taking pictures for various DJ parties and offering $20 photo shoots to any aspiring creative such as myself. I told myself at sixteen years old, I wanted to pursue photography and one day own my very own personal art studio. I have had many people question why I followed art as a career, not believing it would benefit me in the long run, which propelled me to strive harder at succeeding. I am now a graduate from California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art Photography and a certificate in American Indian and Indigenous Studies.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a fine artist who works with photography and video. My art practice focuses on the discussion of ancestral trauma, specifically within the African American community through the study of epigenetics and their relation to the body and human unconscious. I use projection to cast images of text or imagery onto my and my subjects’ bodies to visually articulate the resilient history of African Americans while reflecting on the multigenerational trauma that is inherited through epigenetics.

I got to where I am today through a lot of what my dad would call, “self preservation.” Over the past eight years I have pursued earning my bachelors degree, I have been homeless, I have suffered from a 51/50 psychosis, I have had to take off time from school that I never planned on doing, which prolonged my graduation date a lot longer than anticipated. From my psychosis I had in 2017, I was diagnosed with PTSD, which is why I am so passionate about mental health and intergenerational trauma in my art practice. Through my own experiences, I have wanted to use my art as an entry point into the more difficult conversations around these topics like mental health. I believe mental illnesses should not be taboo topics but should be openly discussed with more compassion and understanding to those who suffer with severe mental disorders.

From my PSTD, I’ve noticed I have developed social anxiety which is hard to cope with when needing to engage with my audience or even my close circle of friends. I forget while advocating for mental health that it is vital for me to take care of my own mental/emotional health first before overexerting too much of my energy. I strongly encourage others that can relate to set more boundaries for yourself so there is a balance in creating your art and your personal life.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Though I live in Long Beach, I grew up in Los Angeles. My favorite place I would recommend first going to is the Central Library in Downtown LA. It has so much art and culture in that historical library, I could literally spend all day in there (which I used to back in high school). In Long Beach, my favorite place to eat is Ike’s Love & Sandwiches. They have over 20 different sandwiches to choose from with quirky names, and their dutch bread is heaven. Palos Verdes has some of the best beaches to go to when you want to get away from the world. And the popular Que Sera bar in Long Beach always has fun, exciting events happening in the evenings over the weekends.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout interview to my mentor/former professor, Rebecca Sittler-Schrock and my friend/alumni colleague Kat De Guzman, without their support I would not be where I am today in my post undergraduate life. Rebecca was my supervising professor who stewarded me with my first ever solo art exhibition, INTERGENERATIONAL, 2019, at the student galleries while attending CSULB. Kat, I had the honor of knowing as an art colleague and friend who has offered great feedback on my personal/class art projects and has always shared my art with her personal audience. I am very grateful to these two women in my life that I was fortunate to meet while attending California State University, Long Beach. Without their support, I would have not experienced some of the amazing networking opportunities I’ve been blessed to participate in. There are many others I can also thank to where I am at in my emerging art career such as my parents who have always been supportive of my pursuit of a career in the arts; as well as many friends and family members who either asked me to capture their family events or personal projects aiding in my growth as a photographer.

Website: www.rejeanavblack.com

Instagram: @rejeana_violet

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rejeana-black-4711a3146/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsrMdtgePhGWjOyXt0Jpxow

Other: https://vimeo.com/user98216590

Image Credits
Rejeana V Black, personal work

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