Chanel's artwork will make you do a double-take. Is it a painting or is that stitching?! Chanel tells all and her message is incredibly powerful!
"I would describe the kind of art I do as paintings with fibers. I really love painting, but I learned how to blend and mix colors using thread first. I think the time that I spend and the richness in color from the embroidery floss really elevates some of the simplest of images and that's what I needed my work to do.
The things that influence my artwork are my family and my community. I think most people if not everyone find that their childhood memories really have a significant influence in shaping our minds, our memories, and how we interact with the world around us.
I use a lot of pictures from my past because they take me to another place where I feel balance or things felt complete. I'm not quite sure why memories of my youth seem so much more significant to me, but maybe it is because I sometimes miss that period of my life. Recreating those memories become the only way I can express how much I value them and I can revisit that time because it takes me days to hand-stitch each image. I am also influenced by the things that I see in my community that can be really challenging to live amongst, but it is still my reality. I see many people living in poverty in my community, and who lack a proper education or even a means for "a way out". I see bucket boys, street vendors, segregation, violence, miss guided youth, more fast food restaurants than there are grocery stores with natural products, and no black businesses in predominantly black neighborhoods.
On the flip side, I also see children playing together and walking to school together, community leaders who make a difference and reach out to their neighbors, families and parents who are trying to teach their children, workers, and homeowners. All of these things affect my work. One minute I could be working on an old family portrait, then the next minute I could be doing something that I saw in The Chicago Tribune or even kids on the block.
I think my favorite artwork is the one Titled "Dion". Dion is my oldest brother and the image I made of him just shows who he is and how he found peace growing up in our household. It was really hard for my family during that time, but that picture shows how Dion found peace through drawing and creating at his desk. Dion has been a big influence in my life as an artist. He was the first one who showed us how to draw and the things that he would make were so creative and cool to me. I always wanted to be like him, so I started teaching myself how to draw by looking at his old drawings and constantly copying them until I got better.
I want people to know me. I don't expect much from what I make, but I feel like I have found a way to open my mind up to people and share a feeling with others that I can't quite form into words. My work creates an understanding that words just can't do. It's like I'm saying "Hey, here are things that matter to me. Can you see them? They might matter to you too if you see them how I see them."