I Am/We Are
Online Artist Talk with Lakesha Moore Calvin
Friday, February 17 at 11am Central/12pm Eastern
By Krishna Adams, Director of Visual Arts, Craft, Media, and Design –
Nashville-based artist and educator Lakesha Moore Calvin is the creator of our current virtual exhibition, IAm/ We Are, running through March 31, 223. She earned an M.F.A. with a focus on painting from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and a B.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. Most recently, she received her M.Ed in Instructional Practice from Lipscomb University in Nashville. Formerly Lakesha Moore, Lakesha Moore Calvin is recently married and excited about her present journey. She continues to be inspired by her family and is grateful for transformative professional opportunities.
The title I Am/We Are developed from conversations surrounding faith, in conversation with reading and exploring the idea of I am, I exist, and I am present. Lakesha is influenced by her family, friends, and her memory. The gathering of those influences come together as representations of her thought; in college, Lakesha was introduced to oils, and now it is her preferred medium. She enjoys the flow of movement on canvas and panel, and mixing on her palette becomes a valued meditative process.
This exhibition is divided into sections of personal significance. The first section, Connection, includes collages. One piece, Outside Looking In, incorporates aspects of multigenerational subjects and familial and personal symbolism to activate the space better. Though based in Nashville, Lakesha has a special bond with the Caribbean. Dreams in Silhouette, represents a contemplation of ancestry, and honors a moment of embracing both the known and unknown. See the exhibition here.
“Through the last few years, I have observed what it is to be and have dreams, desires, and vision. This was the catalyst for identifying, honoring and affirming these individuals. I am making space for them in ways we’ve been encouraged not to, and here they are—without explanation, depictions of the state of being. They live, breathe, and are steadfast in the wheel of their realities.”- L. Calvin
The Perceptions and Imaginings section acknowledges and builds on her internal learning journey and the collective knowledge that further explains who we are. Being the eldest of four children, Collective Sentiment captures a moment shared between her father and two of her brothers. This painting conveys the commonality of feeling found in shared experiences, regardless of age.
Sentimental and empathic, Lakesha actively listens to individuals’ stories and how they express themselves in the process. The individuals portrayed in the Keeper Series were chosen because they keep new and inherited stories alive. With a hunger for understanding and connecting to different cultures, The Exchange depicts a moment in which Lakesha became a keeper of shared culture by learning how to wear a traditional Guatemalan skirt. Intent on being truthful and honoring the past, in Truthteller, she paints the portrait of a dear friend and Nashville historian who carries and protects stories cherished within the North Nashville community. Lakesha believes it’s important how we speak and what words we use to impact and inspire listeners.
“We are constantly profiling ourselves based on others’ perceptions, based on historical knowns and unknowns often because this is the expectation. These files appear easier to sift through, but our own profiles and sense of self remain ignored and uncultivated, discarded or hidden. My aim is to uncover them.”– L. Calvin
For over 12 years, Lakesha has been a full-time arts educator. She says teaching side by side with college artists keeps her work honest. Inspired by her students, their images will occasionally emerge from her paintings. She greatly respects the stories and experiences students often reveal in the classroom and explains that part of her mission as an educator is to lift students up so their stories of life and growth can be seen and heard. Lakesha conveys the advice given to her as a student to the next generation of learners, “Have an active practice. Even a few minutes each day working on your art impacts your work. Always ask questions and consider the answers you find. Compare your experiences with other artists to help you navigate your path. It is vital in your growth to hear new stories.”
Her future plans include participating in the Tennessee Triennial for Contemporary Art exhibit at The Parthenon in Nashville, running from January 26- May 7. She has also been invited by a former teacher, Lyndell Edmondson, to exhibit alongside other local artists at John Early Museum Magnet Middle School, which begins in February. Learn more about Moore’s work here.