Keisha Lopez is an artist based in Nashville, TN. The process of making art is therapeutic for Keisha – she has been able to self-heal through her art, and since then, her art continues to serve this purpose. Her main focus is on the collective experience of women, while her current focus is on rediscovering her Latin roots through abstract expressionism. She is currently studying for a Masters in Art Therapy and talks to us about her latest series “Red, Flesh and Blues”.

When did you start your art practice?

I have used my creativity as an outlet my whole life. I started taking my art seriously around 2013 when I transitioned from Biology Major to Painting and Psychology. Amidst my studies, I developed Leukemia and it completely solidified my need/drive to create as a method of self-healing, growth, as well as illuminated my purpose and identity.

How do you describe your vision for your work?

I create very fluidly and have an organic process. It constantly evolves beside me, and often times ahead of me. I experiment and challenge myself and allow my body of work to reveal its vision to me. It’s a delicate balance of being direct with my intentions and mark-making, but allowing myself to not be too constrained by a planned result. I see my art practice as a lifelong pursuit to heal my mind and body with it. In turn, a vision for my work is to spread my overcoming of chaos, loss of control, and regaining of balance through my abstract methods of creation. I hope to help women feel seen and heard and to overcome trauma. Currently, I am unearthing my previously white-washed Latin cultural ties and in turn promoting further equity and human interconnectedness.

Internal Shift (2020), acrylic, pastel, oils, ink, 36 x 36”

How has your work evolved over time?
In the beginning, my style would change every 2 or 3 weeks. I’ve went from Minimalist to Maximalist, Post-Modernist to Portrait Painter, and from monochromatic Palette to everything in between. I feel now that I am more enrapt with the process of creating and not being restrictive in my methods of creating. I still do not have a ’style’ per say, but I have accepted myself in a perpetual state of in-betweenness.

What are your artistic/creative inspirations?

There are so many. Currently, I am inspired by Sisavanh Phouthavong, Erin Loree, Calli Moore, Cecily Brown, Arden Bendler-Browning, Vadis Turner, Stefanie Thiele and so many other powerful women artists…

I am heavily inspired and influenced by socio-psychological and socio-political ideas, understandings, and circumstance. When trying to understand the world around me, I dive deeper into my own consciousness and understandings through painting.

Tell me about your process.

In the current social climate, the veil has been lifted on before-silenced issues faced on what it truly feels like to be a woman. My work is a series of portraits of myself, those around me, ‘censored’ images from social media platforms, and historical references from the Masters.

In an attempt to overcome obstacles in my own life, I paint the figure and then turn into raw painterly chaos filled with emotions that are unable to be put into words. I plan out the initial marks of a figure, but the responsive colors imbued in my work are a conversation between the colors themselves. Each mark connotes the next step, my hand only being a tool for the brush and palette.

In my upcoming series “Red, Flesh, and Blues,” I will make a distinct choice of limiting my palette. This will entail an inharmonious blend of reds from guttural fleshy, vulnerable pinks to deep hemic hues, a vast range of flesh tones intermingling, and blues ranging from a blue filled with regality interrupted by a pale phantasmic blue hinting at ‘What could have been?’ and ‘Where are we now?’.

Red, Flesh, Blue (2020), acrylic, pastel, oils, ink on canvas, 20 x 20”

Why is art useful?
Without value of the arts, we begin to lose sight of our humanity and the connectedness of humans to nature, to each other, and connectedness to our inner selves. It has the power to interrupt our day-to-day lives and cyclical thoughts, to inspire, and to energize.

Do you think all art has a message? Does yours?

Not everything qualifies as art, but all art has a message.

I paint the inner turmoil bursting out of the collective pores felt by women across generations.

As an Abstract Expressionist, I want to leave space for interpretation and interaction with the viewer to develop their own understanding of themselves/others within the context of my work.

What is safe and/or dangerous in terms of experimentation?

Safety to me, in terms of experimentation, is over-planning and not falling in sync to the creative process. It’s limiting one’s self to the perfect piece and being too afraid to scratch an over-worked piece and to start over. I think true experimentation idles the line of danger of failure. I have experimented time and time again with materials and worried that my result would be an absolute failure. In this space, I have found my greatest creative successes.

Half-Truths and Everything In Between (2019), mixed media on woven canvas, 40 x 40″

What goals do you have for your practice?
I would love to have a flourishing art practice that enables me to have even more time and space to create. I am working towards my Masters in Art Therapy. I see my work developing further alongside my growing psycho-analytical understandings of human perception and healing. I want to speak to people amidst depression, battling the internal chaos and anxieties of life. To pick up the pen, the paper, the brush and just flow instead of harboring negative thoughts affecting self-worth. 

FRONTRUNNER social site: @keishalopez
Website: https://www.keishalopez.studio/
Instagram: @sheeshkeish

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