What inspired you to become an artist?
I always admired works from Frank Morrison, Kerry James Marshall’s, Gordon Parks, Augusta Savage, and Jacob Lawrence. I loved how you could tell a story non-verbally through different mediums. I believe that everyone is born an artist in some capacity, it’s how much I nurtured that artistic ability in myself that inspired me to create. I’ve always resonated with the quote by Pablo Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.” Over the years I would only paint when “necessary”, for school projects or just when I had spare time. It wasn’t until college that the use of art became so essential in my life. I used art as a tool to heal, express, and communicate what I was feeling and as I continued creating, I started using my work to tell my own stories
Tell us about the realization when you figured out that you could create art as a profession.
To be transparent I am only recently coming to that realization, I know that in the past leading up to this moment I’ve had many supporters and those collecting my work, but it has never been at the consistent level of “Wow this could be my career.” I am so blessed to have all these amazing opportunities as my work continues to grow and I’m excited to see where my journey takes me.
Tell us about your training and/or inspiration.
I don’t have much professional training, I am self-taught and constantly watching documentaries, speaking to other professionals, watching those ahead of me and working on my craft. I believe that creativity is a muscle and just like other muscles in the body we must train it by working it out as much as possible to strengthen it.
My inspiration comes from the life I live and the history, resilience and creativity that Black people hold within themselves. As a Black woman living in America, I have seen and experienced the negative consequences when you’re not seen or represented, and I am working to change the narrative and take control of our story through my lens as an artist.
What makes your work unique in such a competitive industry?
I think what makes my work unique in this industry is I am willing to create pieces that may make others uncomfortable at times. I love the quote by the late James Baldwin “Artist are here to disturb the peace.” And I truly believe that as a creative I should create bodies of work that do such that. I want to continue to call attention on issues that have been withheld from us or given a whitewashed narrative and provide imagery that represents the Black community with positivity, relatability, and truth.
What is your favorite creation and why?
My favorite creation is a piece entitled “Let’s Talk About It” It’s a multi layered painting embodying so many topics that I deemed important. The layout of this painting is based around the continent of Africa because it itself is a conversation starter; it is where my ancestors originated from. I chose the color Gold because it represents wealth, success, wisdom and understanding posing the question: How can Africa, a continent with potential wealth remains so poor? This led me into many directions focusing on the warfare being imposed of the people of melanin decent. I split the painting into sixteen different sections all ranging from different topics i.e., Black economics, Prison rates, Structural Adjustment Programs, The Black Lives Matter Movement, Black Leadership, Environmental Racism, and many other topics.
It’s my favorite piece because, I was able to incorporate heavy research into the process of my work and learned so much that isn’t typically provided through our education system. I did deep dives in topics like Ota Benga and Girl Trek, and through my learning and unlearning I was able to gain a better understanding of the world around us and appreciate and share what I’ve learned through my art!
Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?
Over the next five years I want to continue developing my skills as an artist, I will be looking for opportunities to expand my knowledge on mural work, writing, graphic design, business, and perfecting my craft. I will have built a network of peers, mentors, and investors who will be alongside me in this journey. I will have had curated my solo exhibition and would love to be working alongside other artists like Jordan Casteel, Kevin A. Williams, Jurell Cayetano and Mario Moore. As a multidisciplinary artist I would love in the next five years to have my book released as well as a collection that supports the publication.
Hey there! My name is Rachel Crosby (Rae), the artist behind Leanna Rae’s Art. A self-taught artist residing in my beautiful hometown of Denver, Colorado. I believe in the philosophy, that as Black women we must educate ourselves, then reach the children. We get our values mixed into thinking we need to educate the entire world when it first starts with ourselves. I am committed to doing the work of educating myself about the stories that were withheld from us or given a whitewashed narrative and provide imagery that represents the Black community with positivity, relatability, and truth through art. As I’m learning and unlearning through my own experiences, I hope you come along this creative journey with me and discover art that you love that connects you to the collective.