Every artist has a perspective. For visual communicator Brianna Mc Carthy, her art depicts her lifelong goal - to change the image of women of colour. “What is usually put forward as the standard of beauty, I challenge that!” she quipped. “You are beautiful however you are. Women have been looking for images of themselves and so they identify with my work” she added. The 28 year old artist comes from a very resourceful family; however she decided to go the academic route. The former St. George’s College head girl admitted that she always had a latent interest in art but ignored it for much of her life. “You are taught that art is not a viable way of life so I never studied it. Everything I learnt is self-taught,” Mc Carthy revealed. As a young student, she entered university but later aborted her studies due to boredom. She then tried her hand in the corporate world for a couple years but decided to follow her passion full time.
Mc Carthy is a portrait artist, depicting images of coloured women with natural hair. She began using graphite and then switched to water colours. With the constant need for stimulation, her artistic curiosity led her to other forms of creative expression such as making paper collages, dolls and recently masks. However, Mc Carthy’s art has gone through what she describes as a “traumatic mutation.” “I always used to paint lovely images of women with bright colours. But analysing and thinking of myself as a person in this world, I see myself as a fragmented existence.” Her deep analysis of human beings causes her to look intensely at them from a multi-dimensional angle. She ponders on our cosmopolitan make up with roots dispersed internationally, all integrated in one person. Mc Carthy revealed that her pedigree is a mixture of Indian, Mulatto and African. The artist also studies our layers as human beings, what lies beneath our skin colour.
So impassioned is Mc Carthy that she has eliminated skin colour completely from her art. In her inaugural exhibition aptly named “After Colour”, one notices that her hand made dolls have no specific skin tone. This is replaced by different textures and colours of fabric. Her portraits also imply the same. Her inspiration came from a pamphlet in the mail advertising a skin whitening cream with 24 karat gold ingredients that promised a lighter, more beautiful skin complexion. It is clear that Mc Carthy’s art challenges persons to review what we consider beautiful and embark on a journey of self-acceptance. She recalled a tearful experience sitting in a maxi and over hearing two teenagers talking about skin colour, with the darker girl attempting to lighten her skin with white powder. “If my perceptions are correct, it is hard to be comfortable with who you are,” she said thoughtfully. Believe it or not, Mc Carthy’s work days are full as she is focuses on making her paper collages. Far from the perception of a “by the way” hobby, Mc Carthy admitted that it is hard work, especially when her clients and faithful fans await images of her new creations on her blog Passion Fruit. “There is a lot of careful planning and making a collage can take an entire day to create.
There’s also a lot of starting over because you have to get the shapes and patterns right,” she admitted. Mc Carthy uses Japanese paper, handmade paper, vellum and cardboard as her materials. Her constant need for motivation was the impetus for creating masks out of moulded fabric. She digitally made one called “Grace Jones Domestica” which was used at a Sheroes event in Canada. After a sold out response to her debut exhibition, Mc Carthy is in the embryonic stages of planning her second one which is hoped to be ready before year’s end. After two years of full time dedication to her passion, Mc Carthy said that there are no regrets. “I have my challenges but I would not trade it for the corporate world. The freedom and fulfilment that I experience is something that I most likely will not find somewhere else.” For more on Brianna Mc Carthy, you can check out briannamccarthy.blogspot.com