Name: Keshaunna “Kkodez“ Heath
Location: Greensboro, NC
Bio: Keshaunna Heath was born and raised in Baltimore, MD. Her interests in art came at the age of 10 when she began to sketch and draw in school. Keshaunna graduated from Bennett College for Women with a degree in Biology but decided to change paths to focus on developing herself as an artist and entrepreneur. Keshaunna is an artist on the rise. Her inspiration is fluid and that is reflected in her creativity. She is influenced by the sentiments of Afro Urbanism and believes that art is a way to heal people and bring them together to see each other’s perspective.
Describe your experience as a current artist.
Currently I work a regular desk job full time but I also consider myself a full time artist because my brain never stops thinking like one. Creativity is an important part of my life it flows into my personal style the way I cook (I love food) and just my overall views on life. Art has been pursuing me since I was a child. I used to sketch in my notebooks as a kid in school. I was bullied a lot growing up and I had anxiety with math so drawing helped me to release some of that nervous tension. It was my healing back then the same way it is today. My purpose as an artist is to help others heal themselves through creativity.
What was your occupation/education prior to becoming an artist?
Aaahhh this part! Ok! I am a graduate of the beautiful Bennett College for Women where I obtained my Bachelors of Science Degree in Biology. Don’t ask why *laughs* honestly I don’t know what I thought I was going to do with that but at the time of submitting college applications it had sound promising. It was not! After graduating I became a middle school science teacher for Guilford County Schools in North Carolina. This is where my break through came into play. I was overwhelmingly stressed, my anxiety was at its highest I mean nights I couldn’t sleep just dreading waking up and having to go to work. I taught for two years and chose to find a job that was less stressful and would allow time to focus on developing my art. I haven’t gotten to the point where my artwork pays the bills fulltime. For me it’s not just about people buying things that I create, I mean yes! Please do, but long term..my goal is to provide creative healing and support to the community with Art as the foundation. My mom and my partner have been my biggest support through it all. Mom has seen my evolution as a creative from the little Mother’s Day cards and comics I made as a kid, to the funky black girl rock star teen who wanted to be like Bibi McGill and FeFe Dobson to this Artsy yogi entrepreneur I am today. She always said I was eccentric and she continues to support me in every way she can. My partner has also been my source of support especially during my depression as a teacher. She helped me to focus on my light which guided me back into painting.
What was your biggest challenge/obstacle in pursuing art and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge for real for real is myself, I am my competition. Being an artist means constantly being critiqued. I critique myself more than anybody ever has and its not always positive. I sometimes feel that my work isn’t good enough but I have to check myself instead of comparing my path to another. I have to look at where I’ve come from as an artists and let that motivate me to do better. When I look back on previous works I see the growth and that’s all that matters to me. My work schedule right now allows me to maintain my artsy lifestyle. I work at night so that I can paint, practice yoga and self care during the day. It is important to me to have balance because I am a Libra. I sometimes tip the scales but it all levels out in the end.
Describe your biggest milestone or project/series achieved since pursuing your art.
Last year I had the pleasure of participating in the Fifty Shades of Blue Exhibit at the Greensboro Cultural Art center where we were required to use denim as a medium. Talk about a challenge, but when I thought about the words I immediately thought about the many innocent black lives that were taken at the hands of police. I used denim patches as small canvases and painted portraits of Jordan Edwards, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Natasha McKenna, Sandra Bland, Ezell Ford, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and Philando Castile. I am most proud of this piece because I was able to use my art as my way of saying “this isn’t right, you are innocent, they are guilty, and we will not forget you..” -and really have people feel that. Overall, I gained a new interests in using a different type of canvas. This became part of my inspiration for blending yoga and art to create Infinitriii Yoga Styles hand painted yoga mats.
How does your personal style, identity, and/or beliefs translate into your artwork?
When I think about my identity I think of many components. My desire to connect to the source.. ancestors, god, the universe, nature definitely comes out in my work. So In the midst of me creating I am also searching and exploring and I think that’s what makes my art unique. In addition to painting I also write poetry. Every once in a while I’ll get up and do a live mic but I mainly just write.
How do you maintain your mental health and inspiration?
Yoga has had a huge impact on my overall mental health. Not only is it a great work out but you can learn a lot about how to handle the stresses of life while on the mat. Its not just about doing poses its about allowing your body mind and spirit to shift in ways that can empower you. When I run into creative blocks meditation definitely helps too. Ill sit in my window seat with my candles and crystals and just breathe until my mind is quiet and I can focus. And Of course good ol’ chats with mom always warm my spirits and puts me where I need to be.
What is some advice or tips you would give to a fellow BGWP interested in furthering their art goals?
Honey! Can I get some extra tips!? This is all new to me but honestly I think its just important that you stay uplifted and stay inspired. If you don’t have a mentor surround yourself with other people who are willing to learn and who have their own vision . Connect with people and network, that’s something I am doing more of as well. I can be shy so putting myself out there is nerve wrecking sometimes. Also, don’t be afraid to start where you are, with what ever resources you have, humble beginnings are still beginnings.
What is next for you?
BEND AND PAINT! Again its my love for yoga and art all in one fun, interactive, healing experience that me and my good friend put together. That’s happening real soon, so check out my Instagram to stay in the know! Right now I’m really focusing on building my Infinitriii Yoga Styles brand and increasing production.
What does being a "black girl who paints" mean to you?
Being a Black Girl Who Paints means that we have the freedom to explore our creativity as deep as we want. We are the vision in the place of the voices unheard. We reveal what the people are feeling and that allows the healing process to begin. We are powerful.