Aaminah Shakur

Artist in Grand Rapids, Michigan

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My work is primarily mixed-media arts combining text/poetry, collage or transferred images, paint, fiber arts, and beadwork, with a use of found and repurposed items. The work explores themes of love, gender, motherhood, spirituality, sexuality, history, borders, culture, privilege and oppression, abuse, freedom and revolution – and how all of these are interconnected. I am inspired by Indigenous peoples, diasporic communities of color, spirituality and textiles from around the world, and being a part of cultural preservation by keeping traditions alive and passing them on to new generations.

As an artist, I see myself as a culture critic and bridge. For me, art has an important role and responsibility to be at the forefront of addressing social needs and change. I do not necessarily see a separation between art-related matters and larger cultural issues. I believe that art is and should be informed by those matters, and helps to inform those matters at the same time. I am intrigued by the way social media has changed how stories are produced and reported, and the way that individual people in communities are able to tell their own stories via tweets, poetry, photographs, and more, in real time. My own work is greatly informed by thinking about these issues and seeing how other artists are tackling timely topics. I am fascinated by documentary films and biographies about a variety of types of artists that allow the artists to speak about their work and also include others talking about how they relate to the artist and the work. I’m deeply interested in self-produced narratives and uncovering of lost histories.

I am a self-taught artist, happy in my “folk” or “primitive” state as I feel that my work is infused with my cultures and soul. I most appreciate the work of other folk and self-taught artists who are willing to experiment with technique and materials in new ways. Because I came to art originally as a writer and poet, I continue to write about a variety of issues not limited to art, but broader cultural analysis that is also informed by the role I see arts playing in our society. In this way I see my research and writing as being informed by art, and my art to be informed by research and writing both by myself and others.

  • Education
    • Kendall College of Art and Design