We had the good fortune of connecting with Risha Rox and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Risha, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
In a nation that is not particularly supportive of the arts, to make artwork and put it into the world is always a risk. Very seldom is it a path that begins with funding and sustainability. I took the risk of believing in myself and my voice as an artist. This required a lot of internal work and faith. The moves I’ve had to make with regard to balancing money making and art making has also been risky. There are moments where progress, experience and possibility has to be prioritized over having a steady job. It is always a risk transitioning from steady to a freelance or “gig based” employment. Another great risk I took was in investing in myself by pursuing and obtaining my MFA 12 years after my BA. This brought about a new element in my life of significant debt, but has also been instrumental in putting me in the running for various arts opportunities. On a less tangible note, the faith, centering of my practice and the general intellectual/creative hedonism of higher education in the arts were of incalculable value.

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 refer to my interdisciplinary Black body centered art, body painting, makeup, photography and story telling practice as Corporealism. I arrived at this path very organically. I am a lifelong artist and story teller. I definitely struggled in my early adulthood to center my art practice and truly embody my life experience as an artist. I always continued to develop myself and my practice and with the confidence that only emerged with time and creation, I have found joy! I would say signatures of my work are: Exaltation of the mudanity of our fleshly existence, an ability to carry messages from ethereal realms and present them “in the flesh”, and the transcendence of commonly held and problematic notions regarding the Black body. Putting my art into the world also led to collaborations with directors which organically evolved into a career as a Makeup Artist in Film & Television. I am major proponent of cross pollenization, collaboration, artistic integrity and authenticity. My experience has shown me that though the road may be winding, there are allies along the way. The most valuable commitment one can make is to oneself and the uniqueness of our individual voices.

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?
I would bring a friend to pick up delicious Thai food in Hollywood’s Thai town, Ethiopian food from Yordanos in the Jungles (AKA Baldwin Village) accompanied by a bottle of house brewed tej (honey wine) or yummy LA tacos. We would transport our gustatory delights to enjoy on the beach. A dip in the sea, a nice beach stroll and enjoying of a gorgeous smog smutty sunset make for a perfect outing. Now in the brightly lit LA night, we would venture to Leimert Park (the BEST neighborhood in LA, my born and bred stomping grounds) to enjoy some outdoor live music and dancing in the alley and on the “Sankofa Stones”. We would go on hikes near Griffith Park (in Los Feliz where I went to high school at Immaculate Heart) as well as a really cool hand hewn hiking path which I discovered recently right behind my place. Some kind person put in a lot of effort to make a set of stairs off the map path which leads from Jim Gilliam Park to official trails which eventually lead to Kenneth Hahn Park. After a lovely hike, culminating in truly glorious views of my city, we would return to enjoy a picnic in Jim Gilliam Park. A visitor to LA would simply have to experience the now ensconced Cannabis culture with some beautiful flowers, edibles and CBD. We would enjoy fabulous coffee drinks from Undergrind Cafe (Pico-Robertson) and Harun Coffee (Leimert Park). This would allow us to take a visit to shops like Sol Folks and Eso Won bookstore. The Broad, the California African American Museum, LACMA, the Hammer and Dominique Art Gallery (with my Immaculate Heart Panda sister, Dominique Clayton at the helm) in West Adams are must sees. While in West Adams, a tranquil stroll around the koi fish pond studded grounds of the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens. There are also the wonderful rose gardens at Exposition Park where I have also enjoyed drive in movies (most recently, Paris is Burning). For a delicious and iconic LA meal, I would take her to Roscoe’s followed by a trip right across the street to my favorite boutique and plant store, Queen where owner, Amorette Brooms will hook you up. A drive along the winding Pacific Coast Highway for a beach trip and a visit to the Self Realization Fellowship’s Lake Shrine would make my besties trip complete.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank the fairies, wizards and more simply described, art friends and collaborators who I have met along my artistic journey. The deep support and collaboration have allowed me to go much further than I could have gone alone. Mommy, Tameko Shambrey (01/30/79-1/30/99), Anita Kopacz, Damu Groves, Nucomme Walker, Nikyatu Jusu, Terence Nance and Darius Jones!

Website: www.risharox.com

Instagram: @risharox

Linkedin: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4480682/

Image Credits
Photos by: Risha Rox, Victor Torch, Malaika Jules, Quazi King, Tracey Young, Tamika Johnson, Cynical Smith Models: Jean LeBrun, Drew McClain, Anita Kopacz, Sallome Hralima, Asen James, Tokyo Rose, Arie Disco, Jazzelle Zanaughtti

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.