Welcome to the second edition of The Intellects. Today I’m chatting with Rachel “Gemynii” Storer, visual artist. Born and raised in Jones County, North Carolina, Gemynii says she developed a love for all levels of art and music at a very young age. It wasn’t until 2013 when she started to exhibit her work in the Tar Heel State.
Gemynii, 31, says she taught herself how to paint. Her paintings focus on abstract portraits of people of color and is influenced by social issues, music, body and gender acceptance, and “the overall black experience.”
Gemynii says she is working on her next political project, which will acknowledge the names of women of color who were killed by police in America. The project will include temporary graffiti with the names of the victims placed on vinyl records. Gemynii says she intends on putting her work throughout the Bull City to make sure their names are not forgotten.
This socially and politically conscious artist has created and sold so many pieces that she says she lost count. One thing is for sure, all of Gemynii’s creations are her favorite. She calls them “Pieces of a Gem.”
This black genius is also a poet, writer, art instructor, DJ and community activist. Gemynii lives and works in Durham. She has showcased her work in various venues, including Pitch Media Gallery, Duke University Hospital, Busboys & Poets, Golden Belt and The Market Street Coffeehouse.
Q: What do you think of the 2016 presidential election?
A: I know I’m going to vote for Hillary, but it feels like I’m voting for the lesser of two evils. I don’t really want either one of them to be president. I don’t trust them to be honest. I need Michelle Obama to run or something. I need her for president and then when she’s done, I need Malia and Sasha to run.
A: There’s so many of us. I honestly feel like everybody is an artist in some way. My role was predestined. To be an artist was part of my soul path and for me it’s a tool to represent and to heal. I teach art therapy and I love to see that healing process that art can give people. That’s how I got into art. I needed mental healing.
A: I am all about body positive work. I try to be a body positive advocate for people to love themselves, whether they’re skinny, fat, tall or short. I did an art show a year ago called “Body Positive.” I painted portraits of models who were brave enough to send me photos of their bodies. They completely ranged from something you might consider too skinny to too fat. I did this to help people step out of these boxes that society tells us is aesthetically beautiful.
Q: What role can art play in creating social change?
A: I don’t think, I know art plays a huge role in social change. As long as you’re doing something that’s going to provoke some form of change, then it has an impact on what’s going on. I use my art to express my own political and social justice views very often. Everything that I do is 100 percent me.
Q: Why is it important as a visual artist to have paintings showcasing the black experience?
A: It is underrepresented in the art world. It’s important for me to document what’s going on as well as to just have visual representation period in the art world.
Q: What super power would you have?
A: If I had a super power, it would be to go into a bank and be able to get as much money out as I wanted.
Q: But what’s the super power?
A: The power is getting the money. The power of gab! I would have the power of getting what I want.
Q: What art movement or artist would you say influences your work most?
A: As far as doing the temporary graffiti, I would say I’m influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat. As far as brining politics into my art, I would say that I’m very inspired by Nina Simone, who said that it’s the artist’s duty to use their platform to document the times.
What’s the main takeaway you valued from Gemynii’s interview? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.