When Black Blossoms received Nicole’s art submission for the Black Blossoms Exhibition. We screamed (with joy) when we saw Rosa Parks on a Skateboard. Yes, Rosa Parks, the black women who refused to give up her seat on the bus because she was probably tired from her day job where she fought for the rights of black women.
What Rosa Parks did that day was so courageous, it started the Montgomery bus boycott and her actions helped put an end to the racial segregation laws in America.
It was only right to give an intersectional feminist the opportunity to showcase her work at the Black Blossoms exhibition.
Tell us why you applied to be part of the Black Blossoms Exhibition?
I received an email asking for submissions for an exhibition focusing on black women and I had just completed the Empowering Women Series. I knew I had the Rosa Parks skateboard that would fit the criteria. I never expected to be selected, let alone be asked to create more skateboards for the exhibition and I feel very humbled that Black Blossoms felt that my work reflected their ethos.
Why did you decide to do a skateboard series?
Designing skateboards are something I have done in the past and really enjoyed but it was actually my thesis that was written on subversive skateboard graphics. This led me to create my Empowering Women Series. I had never really realised just how badly women were portrayed in skateboarding and the graphics, so I wanted to create a series of decks that undermined this.
Why do you think the empowerment of women in art and sport is important?
I think it is so important. Growing up I was really into sport especially football and skateboarding but I never felt included. I used to be embarrassed to go out on my skateboard as I was always getting heckled or told I couldn’t skate because I was a girl. I think it’s a terrible thing for someone to tell somebody they can’t do something because of their gender and I hope this can change soon. In the future, I hope we see many more women like Tracy Emin and Serena Williams coming through in art and sport.
Did your degree prepare you to do a body of work around intersectionality, diversity, and inclusion?
I wouldn’t say my degree helped me to do it but I would say my peers at University helped me too. I was for the first time in my life surrounded by such a diverse range of people of different races, religions, cultures, nationalities which opened my mind and inspired me to create more intersectional work and think about inclusion much more.
What does equality look like in the arts?
I feel unfortunately there isn’t equality within the arts and platforms are only given to a select few, if you don’t meet the criteria it is much harder to get yourself known. That’s why Black Blossoms is so important as it gives those who are not fairly represented a voice and portrays a message of we shall not be hidden or silenced, we are here!
What is your understanding of intersectional feminism?
My understanding of intersectional feminism is that a women can face more than the one struggle of being a women. A women can also be gay, or of colour or of a certain religion, all things that aren’t socially accepted around the world. I think intersectional feminism is women being proud and fighting for all of us to be included and represented regardless of race, religion, nationality, disability and sexual orientation.
If you could choose two more women to put on a skateboard who would they be and why?
I am actually working on a skateboard of Serena Williams now, so her and I think Laverne Cox. Obviously, Serena because of everything she has achieved and how much she has done for women in sport and yet is still regularly criticised, being told she only wins because her body is like that of a man. I would also like to do Laverne Cox as she was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an Emmy and the first trans person to appear on the front cover of Time magazine. She is also an LGBT advocate and an inspiration to anyone who is struggling with their identity so she is the perfect woman to include in my Empowering Women Series.
For more of Nicole’s work, please visit her website.
This interview is part of the #BlackBlossomsExhibit series.
Black Blossoms highlights the voices of Black Women in Higher Education and creative industries. The exhibition is open from 11 July – 2 October at UAL Showroom.