Photographer Alana Fajemisin of AlanAdetolArts, LLC recently visited artist Obsidian Bellis in her studio. The two women go back together a long way, and have worked on several creative endeavors together over the years. Here is a peek into their latest collaboration.
I’m Obsidian Bellis, an artist and DIY organizer born and raised on the East Side of Buffalo, NY. After traveling and living in other places on the East Coast and Midwest, I now reside on the West Side of Buffalo.
What does “being creative” mean to you?
To me, being creative is understanding how to use yourself as a resource and tool to bring something new into existence. All you have to do is bring yourself, an idea, and leave something to share or experience. It’s accessible to everyone because it only requires time and dedication, like love does.
Can you remember when you first realized that you wanted (or had) to make art?
One day I was in elementary school art class and my teacher Ms. Ragusa introduced a ‘Career Day’ activity that required the students to make paper dolls of themselves. The kids were really excited and started talking about their intentions for the project before lining up to collect supplies. There were little construction paper body cutouts of various flesh tones and beside those were uniforms for a few different careers: a nurse, a police officer, and a firefighter. I ended up at the back of the line, so by the time I got to the table all the uniforms were practically gone and I was extremely sad about not feeling like I had the full experience everyone else had.
My teacher assured me that even though I felt like I didn’t have a good selection, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t make the project fun to do in my own way. Also, that even if it wasn’t going to be ideal to my expectations, it wasn’t going to be my last art project. She inspired me to subscribe to the life of a visual artist because I could practice creating what I wanted to portray with bits and pieces.
Are there any rituals or routines that are a part of your creative process?
I love practicing the small everyday joys that make me feel human and comfortable enough to focus on doing anything creative. I like playing MMORPGs, eating tofu vegetable curry, and treating my bunny companion Coretta Hop King like a princess. Then typically I’ll disappear from the world and stay in my bedroom with headphones on while sitting in a nest of snacks and art supplies.
Do you have a favorite piece of art?
I really enjoy the magical illustrations placed on 15th – 19th century Coptic prayer scroll amulets and Ethiopian illuminated manuscripts.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
I am always trying to show others the worlds I escape into and the creatures that live in it. Sometimes they resemble a fantasy version of the one we all reside in.
Is there a medium that you’d like to practice more but haven’t had the chance to yet?
In the future I would like to practice working with fabric and clothing design.
What’s the best advice you’d like to offer to fellow artists?
Don’t be any harder on yourself than the world can be to you.