Desireé Vaniecia is a contemporary artist, based in Dallas, who creates personal and thought-provoking pieces inspired by the complexities of the human experience. Her works combine vivid colors, dynamic compositions, and a mix of media to evoke emotions and encourage deeper reflection. With hints of Art Nouveau and Renaissance art, she explores the representation of Black women, seeking to celebrate their beauty, strength, and diversity while challenging traditional notions of femininity.
1. What gets your motor running?
Typically, a song will get my motor running—any big project or solo show I’ve completed can be tied back to a particular song.
2. Tell us about a work of art you feel is woefully misunderstood or underappreciated.
I’m a huge fan of Kara Walker’s work. She is best known for her silhouette cutouts and large-scale installation works, but her etchings and print editions are just as strong as her well-known works.
3. How is the Dallas art scene these days? What makes Dallas’s art scene special?
The Dallas art scene is still in a state of growth. More galleries are popping up, and more amazing artists are being recognized in our city. The fact that many of our artists are part of a large community, and we’re always showing out for each other, makes it unique. Though we all have different works, we can all come together to appreciate the great work that is being created.
4. Your work features stark colors and dynamic compositions. How do you use these elements to evoke emotion in the viewer?
I really tap into color theory for my works. What color evokes certain emotions? What can I add to convey a certain feeling? I also think about the composition, how is my figure placed, and what is sharing the canvas with her? I like to work front-to-back with my paintings; this means I would typically write a short story, or a journal, or a memory—and I use those writing mediums to guide my paintings.
5. The thing that’s most striking about your art, to us, is the prominence of faces—faces that capture the eye and draw you in. Why are you so drawn to painting people, and what do you want these faces to say?
I like painting people because the stories they can tell with their body language and facial expressions are infinite. Most of my storytelling is based on the people I choose to paint; I want them to be focal points. I have always said that I wanted these faces to be a reflection. When people look into their faces, they see parts of themselves or search through the figures’ voids and find themselves.
6. Your work is obviously deeply interested in Black culture and community. Would you say you’re making a point, and/or asking questions? What point are you making, and what questions are you asking?
I wouldn’t say that I’m making a point or any statement; I wouldn’t even say I’m asking any questions. Much of my work comes from reflecting on how I have navigated through life and how various family members have guided me through life. I’m more interested in my works telling more significant stories of being a person and having dreams, having bad times, being tired, wanting to be loved, and growing up too fast.
I always wanted to be a storyteller when I began painting. So for me, I don’t think I am asking any questions, but for the viewers of my art, I want them to ask themselves questions. I want my works to spark something within them, or have them reflect on their own experiences.
7. How do you take your whiskey?
When I did drink, I always had my whiskey with Coke and on the rocks.