In 2017, a study found that even despite the fact that Latinxs make up 16 percent of the United States’s largest minority population, only 1.2% of them are represented as artists in New York’s art galleries. Art is often called “universal” and “language-less” but when one of the most diverse cities in the world only has 1.2% Hispanic representation in it’s art Galleries, art might not be as universal as some would think. Thankfully museums are not the only places people can interact with art. On Instagram Afro-Dominicana Fanesha Fabre is contributing to the art scene in New York City and beyond through her multi media visual arts.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic to a father who was a music enthusiast, Fabre says art has always been in her life.
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“My father is an artist and so is everyone else in my family. I grew up watching my father paint, making sculptures, and going to his art shows.” Fabre tells FIERCE in an interview about the culture of representation in New York’s art scene. A self-described visual learner, Fabre says that she first learned about art from her father whom she watched create musical and physical art as a child until she was 16 and decided to pursue music for herself.
Of course, being a woman of color with an opinion in a highly cut throat environment proved to be far from easy. “I found myself having to prove myself 20 times harder then any man I had ever met. I was putting in the work, but always overlooked.”
Through this process, Fabre says she learned that if she was to succeed in the art world – through any medium – she would have to hustle and teach herself as many skills as she could. She found motivation in her increasing impatience with constantly being over looked and having to wait for producers and editors to help her with final cuts.
“I taught myself to produce music and record because I am not patient with the things that I want to create.” Her impatience and frustrations with the music industry are also what pushed her to take a break from music. Her timeout from creating music ultimately set her up for the work she’s currently doing as a visual artist.
It was during a particularly trying time in her life that brought Fabre back to drawing. After 12 years of disregarding her sketchpads, Fabre picked up a pencil and got to work. The transition was as seamless as riding a bike again. “I was like wait a minute I’m good at this. Its just so natural, still.” Once she began rekindling her relationship with visual arts, Fabre says her purpose and goals became clearer and less daunting. She fell back in love with creating art and wanted to pursue it as more than just a hobby.
In 2017 she finally made the transition from musical artist to visual artist and Fabre says it’s felt like the most natural transition she’d made in her life. Contrary to the small support she received as a musical artist Fabre says she gets support from everyone now, her father, sister, people via social media, and group of women that are also artist.
Today, she creates beautiful pieces in pencil, digital, paint, and photo shop tools.
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Using tools like Photoshop she creates colorful, lively, and vivid photos of her family, friends, and celebrities. Her projects are often dotted with colorful backgrounds, large pieces of jewelry and crowns. Looking at one of her pieces is a lot like coming to understand what “Living Color” might look like on a personified version of a tropical island summer.
Still, just when you might have thought that her talents might be limited to music and drawing, it turns out Fabre also makes custom lapel pins.
Each are boast hints at our culture and include famous figures like Selena, Biggie, and Sade. There’s also a pin that acts as an side joke on the elusive butter cookie tin that is almost always only packed with sewing needles.
Unlike many pins on the market that tend to be enamel, Fabre’s are different – they’re homemade. She recalls that motivational sense of impatience bubbling up inside again when she was unable to create custom pins when she wanted. “So of course, here I am, impatient and wanting to create something on the spot whenever I felt like creating, I started to research the possibilities on how to make pins at home. After months and months of testing different things out, we had a winner. A pin that I could make whenever I wanted and make as many of them as I needed.”
When asked about the process and care she puts into making her pins, Fabre quotes her father, “never reveal the secrets of the studio.”
For now we’ll just have to enjoy her pins and appreciate the mystery behind them.
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It’s been a year since Fabre decided to launch her business, Fanesha Fabre Arts, but she had a vision three years ago; “I had this dream 3 years ago of doing what I am doing now. It took 3 years to manifest and it has been totally worth it.”
Her message for any Afro Latinas out there deciding on whether or not to pursue the arts she says, “learn the basics but break all the rules after; when people want to buy your work, give your work value, ask people for what you want to ask, if they can’t give you that, then your work will find it’s rightful owner on it’s own; and surround yourself with people who honor you as a person.”
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