Otha “Vak­seen” Davis III | @vak­seenart Los An­ge­les

Gay Times Magazine - - CULTURE -

What does your work teach us about the power of re­la­tion­ships and the idea we’re all con­nected and closer than we might first think?

Re­la­tion­ships are ev­ery­thing and my art re­lies on that con­nec­tion. I hon­estly be­lieve all art does. Self-im­age and di­ver­sity are con­sis­tent themes in my work so from in­cep­tion to re­cep­tion, my art re­volves around peo­ple, ex­pe­ri­ences and per­sonal con­nec­tions. Grow­ing up over­weight, I al­ways dealt with self­con­fi­dence or im­age is­sues and that’s some­thing that so many peo­ple can re­late with. Es­pe­cially with the im­por­tance we place on outer ap­pear­ances as a so­ci­ety. So even the way I jux­ta­pose my por­traits rep­re­sents the frag­men­ta­tion within us all as we strive for ac­cep­tance. I think it’s the power of this per­sonal con­nec­tion that al­lows some­one to fully ap­pre­ci­ate my art, my mes­sage and ul­ti­mately see the value in own­ing it.

How do we look past het­eronor­ma­tive ex­pec­ta­tions of love and see the power of a hu­man con­nec­tion?

So much has changed since I was a kid, but we still have a long way to go to see true equal­ity. I think it boils down to real con­ver­sa­tions like these that help cre­ate the di­a­logue, in­spire change and ul­ti­mately force the hands of pop cul­ture. From an en­ter­tain­ment per­spec­tive, you see so much more authen­tic­ity in the me­dia that re­flects ac­cep­tance. I think peo­ple are fi­nally un­der­stand­ing that the world is a big place, ev­ery­one moves dif­fer­ently and you can only con­trol your own life. At the end of the day, who cares what the next per­son does if it’s not im­pact­ing you?

What’s the one thing you’d like to know or learn from oth­ers cre­at­ing art around the world too?

I just want to know their per­spec­tive. The world is so much biœer than my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences so there’s al­ways room to learn. That’s so im­por­tant to me as some­one who ap­pre­ci­ates di­ver­sity. I love trav­el­ing, eat­ing and ap­pre­ci­at­ing cul­ture from around the world. Gain­ing new per­spec­tives is what life is all about.

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