With vibrancy flowing through her veins, Reyna, visual artist and author of 'In Bloom' is one to inspire. We connected with this stunning creator and poet on the story behind her second poetry collection and her work to promote social justice through art.
Tell us a little about the magical work you do and how you got your start as an artist?
From very early on, I was careful not to define myself in any way that would trick my mind into thinking I had to be any one thing. The women you paint, and the spaces you illustrate are so distinct and powerful, what inspires you to create different series or works? My work is an extension of my experiences and that which brings me joy. Seeing Black women and women of color in beautiful spaces, exhibiting confidence, and serenity is something that I think has been missing from the art world. Having that representation can do wonders for what we imagine to be possible for ourselves and offers a step toward unifying our communities and humanizing our experiences.
'In Bloom,' what was the inspiration beyond launching this collection of poems?
'In Bloom' is my second poetry collection and a continuation of the first; it chronicles my growth and evolution since that book and the experiences that made it possible. People often ask, "How do you overcome fears? How do you get over imposter syndrome? And how do you love yourself?" In Bloom is my response, a series of little poems that reflect on the experiences that help screw those lightbulbs on. We are all filled with those experiences, whether or not we notice and honor them and learn from them can make all the difference.
Traditions, hobbies, or pastimes you love?
As I grow both in age and in my work, I'm learning more about how to cultivate my surroundings for the experiences I want to have. My space needs to bring me peace, which means good smells (candles, incense, air fresheners) greenery (I have an insane plant collection, or family, I call them), and lots of art. Plus, I'm cooking more and staying true to my self-care routines like hair and nail practices. It's easy to take it all for granted until you hit a rut and can't find your way out of it. Doing things that keep you feeling like YOU can help keep that at bay.
What's a ritual you practice daily?
Simple meditation (just soothing music, deep breathing, and slowly allowing myself to come into the day) and gratitude prayers.
What are some of the key lessons you've learned (spiritually, emotionally, mentally) over the last few months of isolation and, most recently, during the protests?
I mainly affirmed many previously learned lessons like solidifying my self-love practices, discipline, communication, never settling, and the ability to pivot. Over the first few months of quarantine, I was bummed, because I meant to be starting a new life in Barcelona before COVID canceled my flight, but somehow all the goals I had to do over there have just been expedited. Reaffirms that whatever is meant for you will be, always.
Raising each other up and amplifying Black voices can take many forms — what does this mean to you, and what's your approach to contribute to social justice through art?
We are creating the material that starts a much-needed dialogue—using our platforms to educate, documenting history in a way that can be digested regardless of time and language barriers. As a Black, afro- Latina artist that has created a platform and garnered many opportunities, I now must amplify other voices that may go unnoticed.
How do you see the future — what does it hold?
Liberation and community. As soon as we let go of putting our individual needs, materialistic, and status-based, we will know true peace and harmony before the needs of the collective.
Take care of yourself. Dig deep and heal, learn, love it all. Only then can you go out in the world ready to listen, understand, make a change, and follow your dreams. Otherwise, we are just wearing masks, covering our wounds and trauma.