Growing up in Worcester is a little hard to describe, given that it isn’t a universal experience. A lot of that diversity is expressed through artistry; whether these creators paint, design, make music, or whatever, you see a piece of who they are and the impact of where they live in their work. So when it comes to documenting this artistic expression, there is an amazing range to pick from, given that many artists from here excel in knowing how to take up space.
One artist out of this draw is a college student from the Worcester area named Savonne Pickett. A mixed-media artist, she dabbles in the worlds of music, painting, poetry, fashion, and more, building off of each medium to show her view of the world as well as a piece of us. Savonne radiates creative energy that reflects the power of art and its ability to change lives; after reading this sit-down chat with her–as well as attending her show on August 27 at The Village in Worcester–you’ll see the impact art has on her life and her communication with the world.
Boston Hassle: How does being from Worcester affect your artwork?
Savonne Pickett: I’ve grown up here, I’ve met a lot of people who do art, and I’ve also been shown different styles of art. There’s art on the buildings, like the murals and everything, and they’re all very nice. I don’t know; it’s just a different vibe in Worcester that’s different from everywhere else.
Who are some artists that influence you?
I would say my dad; he’s a creative himself. He started doing photography with my uncle but now focuses more on videography. He’s taught me a lot in those areas of art, especially when it comes to digital work. He’s taught me the basics of staying organized on the computer and ensuring my work files were easy to find. He also taught me how to use Photoshop, which is how I got into making digital art. An old friend of mine named Perry Bright, who goes by Bushido, does a lot of pencil work and rarely uses color with anything, so I think that’s pretty cool. Painting-wise, Kehinde Wiley does very realistic paintings, and fashion-wise–because my major is fashion design–I would say Iris Van Herpen.
Do you have a favorite medium?
My favorite medium would be acrylic paint. Ah, I don’t know if it’s my favorite medium–I feel like oil would be my favorite medium if I knew how to use it, but for now, it’s acrylic. I’ve been painting with it for a while now, and ever since the middle of last year, I’ve figured out that it’s elevating, in a sense. And I kind of figured out how to use acrylic paint as oil, but acrylic paint dries a lot faster, making me like it a lot more.
When did you start using acrylics?
Probably 2015-2016, because before that, I used a lot of watercolors; I feel like that’s the start for every painter. I stopped using them because it was a little difficult for me. Then, we would use tempera and acrylic paints in class, so I bought some, and I’ve been working with them ever since. I would experiment with oils here and there, but I was never really down to practice. I learned more about how to use the medium around last year. When I learned how to use it differently, my work started to look different. I kind of just taught myself some new skills that made me more proud of the work that I was creating.
Where do you find the inspiration to paint something? Is it like something that you’ve watched? A convo with someone? Just vibes?
Yea, it’s mostly just vibes and also how I’m feeling. So if I have like an intense emotion, I’ll paint how I’m feeling, and then it’ll be a part of a series I started called “Outward Expression” and then a colon, whatever that piece made me feel. So if I’m ever feeling an intense emotion, that’s what that piece would be. For my other artwork, just being outside, talking to someone, or looking at pictures on Pinterest–it all depends on what I’m trying to capture in my art. If I’m trying to work on perspective, I’ll go on Pinterest and look at some pictures. That’s the app I use most of the time if I wanna practice shadows and perspective with people’s faces. And then there are moments where I like freestyling; most of those come out pretty abstract. It really depends on what mood I’m in most of the time. So if I have a piece I wanna recreate or work on, I’ll sketch it out on the canvas and then rework it.
This is kind of like a big question, but how important do you think art is to our society?
Very important. I think I was probably in elementary school when I realized this. I’d tell people I’d wanted to be an artist when I grew up, and they’d be like, ‘They don’t get paid,’ and I’m like, ‘how are you going to tell a child something like that,’ you know? If you look around, everything is art. Sometimes creativity needs to be incorporated into everything, like architecture! It boggles me when people don’t understand how much of an impact art has on the world.
What drives you to make art?
In terms of painting, I would say bringing my ideas to life and trying to make people see what I see. I found that there was a certain point in my life where I wasn’t very vocal. I didn’t really know how to express myself through words, only through writing. Having all of these art outlets really helped me put those thoughts and what I was feeling in a perspective that I could share with the world. Since I wanted to go to school for art, I had made this whole plan like ‘I could make art, and I could also make music, I could do all of this other stuff.’ So like, I’d write a poem because I couldn’t verbally express my feelings, so I would write it down on paper. And then I’m like, ‘Oh, I could turn this into a song,’ so I’d make a beat, and I’d turn it into a song. Then I’m like, ‘Oh, this song makes me feel like this,’ so I would paint how I feel with it, you know? So then I have a painting, and I’m like, ‘Oh, these colors look nice, this could inspire clothes I wanna make,’ and it’s just like this domino effect I wanted to create for myself. And I guess just thinking about that really motivated me to want to create art and art in different mediums.
Building off of one of your pieces, ‘Outward Expression: No Emotion’, what brought you to paint this?
That painting was the first one in that series. ‘Outward Expression,’ is just me freely expressing how I feel in that moment. Usually, I would paint a picture and try to finish it in one day, but now I’ve learned that I could be patient and take time. With this specific series, though, I would paint how I feel in that moment to try and portray it on the canvas. That piece is called ‘Outward Expression: No Emotion’ because I felt like nothing when I was painting it. I guess felt so many emotions that it felt like nothing to me, and I was just so upset, angry, and sad–I was just going through it. I was like, ‘I don’t care what this looks like I’m just gonna do this’. Doing a painting like that is very relieving in a sense because it just helps me get things out better, rather than just painting something in particular and focusing on the details.
Do you have any shows coming up in the future?
I actually do! I have a show coming up on August 27: A-Z Art Exhibition at the Village. I’m very excited to host that.
Is there a reason why it’s titled ‘A-Z’
It represents my journey of feeling proud of my work. There was this moment where I realized that I’m starting to feel proud of what I’m doing, and my art is starting to come out in a way where I could appreciate it more and recognize my growth. As I kept thinking about the title, I did put a meaning to the letters. Essentially they both mean the same thing, but the ‘A’ is Acme, and the Z is ‘Zenith.’ Those two words both mean a point where you feel most successful, and I feel like this is the proudest I’ve felt of myself. People normally say ‘point A to point B,’ but it’s not that quick for me. It’s been a while for me to get to point Z, and I’m probably not even at point Z yet. The process of me creating my art is not just a boom-boom-done; there are levels to how I feel and how I’m creating.
Check out ‘A-Z’ on 8/27 at The Village, located on 4 King Street, Worcester, MA, 01610. Follow Savonne at @savy.thegreat.art on Instagram.