Interview with Shakerra Monét
Throughout the month of February we have been hearing from parishioners and their experience with race, racism, privilege, and fragility. For our final installment we will listen in on an interview between Parish Pastor Nathan Hoag and local artist Shakerra Monét. Here are some snippets of the conversation followed by some ways you can view and interact with Monét’s art.
NATHAN HOAG: We come into Session all the time and see your art on the walls here. We love it. My kids have a special relationship with your art for two reasons: 1. it features black subjects, which represents a couple of my kids; and 2. there’s a line through the eyes on most of your portraits. My kids kids think those are pictures of foster kids since that’s how we post photos of foster kids to social media: with a line through their eyes for privacy.
SHAKERRA MONÉT: I’ve heard that story. I think it’s so funny! I didn’t know that about foster kids until I heard about your kids.
HOAG: Tell me more about that line through the eyes of so many of your subjects.
MONÉT: It has a funny beginning. Eyes are really hard to draw. Eyes and hands. You see that hands around the mouth on SATIVA? Those took forever to get right. I had to be totally focused and committed to getting those to look the way they do. Eyes are nearly as hard to draw. I was working on a portrait one time and got really frustration so I painted a huge line with my brush right through the eyes. I liked it and just kept it that way. It was the beginning of a signature for my work.
HOAG: Who do you draw? Where do you get your inspiration?
MONÉT: I scroll through Instagram or meet people at art shows and when I see someone I want to draw I save the photo or take a picture of them. The finished product often looks really different from the original subject but there’s always a real person who inspired each of my pieces. Like with SHERBET, I saw this guy at _______ who had a flower in his beard and glitter all over him. I just loved how he was towering over this tiny popsicle so I asked him if I could take his picture. He was like, “Sure, I guess.” And I ended up drawing him later.
HOAG: Is there a singular or main message you’re communicating through your art?
MONÉT: The main thing I’m communicating is positive black representation. I want black people to be able to see themselves portrayed in a positive way in my art, especially for black men. Black masculinity so often portrayed as really tough and even aggressive. My art portrays black men as masculine but a playful and more joyful version of that. Like with SHERBET, S H A B E Z, and BLACK RELIC.
HOAG: What’s next for you? Anything significant coming up?
MONÉT: Yes! I have a show beginning March 19 at the Riveter in Rino. It’s called BLACK RELIC and there’s party at The Riverter to kick it off. I’m working non-stop to create new art of this series and I’m really excited about the opportunity.
HOAG: Why are you calling it “BLACK RELICS”?
MONÉT: Relics are sacred and even worshiped. Relics are items that are honored in society because of their beauty and significance. That’s why they are considered sacred. This series will show the sacredness of my subjects and therefore the sacredness of black people in our society.
HOAG: We’ll be there! Can’t wait.
To purchase or find out more about Shakerra’s art, visit her site at smonetillustrations.com.
To find out more about BLACK RELICS at The Riveter CLICK HERE.
This interview took place at Session Coffee where Shakerra creates a lot of her are and where several pieces are on display.