Makeda Lewis' Unapologetic Art


Some time ago, I attended an art event that had major vibes flowing. In the dark room, lit only by stage lights, there was a table displaying Makeda’s work. Our brief encounter did not allow the amount of time needed to elaborate on her showings. Her blunt, raw pieces activated my curiosity, and thankfully, we got to discuss her work and the ideas that led to their creation. If topics of Black female empowerment or the word “pussy” is offensive to you, I recommend you move along.

I began by asking her to share with me some things about herself, to which she replied: 

I’m a 24 yr old black girl born in DC, raised in San Antonio. I’ve been living in Atlanta for ten years. I have an older sister [who] is the other half of me. She’s a writer, poet, performer and speaker and a lot of my insight into being a creative, persevering, growing as a black woman and many other things come from watching her. I’m currently experiencing being in love for the first time . . .  it’s fucking exhilarating and terrifying. I cry often; it’s good and necessary for me. I don’t eat meat, and I love dark chocolate. . . The Office is my favorite TV show.
— Makeda Lewis

After making it clear that creativity is in her genes, we went into her work centering on women's empowerment and celebrating blackness. She explains that “I’m a black woman. These aren’t just ‘subjects’ that are important to me, they are founding parts of my existence.” The current state of feminism proves that this type of narrative is so necessary for women, especially women of color. Makeda’s “Black Pussy Supreme” coffee mug is super badass, but it also encourages women to reclaim the power of their femininity. We agree that society often degrades black women’s sexuality, bodies, etc.; but how can her work help Black women become more secure and in control of their sexual expression? Well, she informs me that her art progresses this movement “because, again, these aren’t just concepts I’m standing behind, these are ideologies that have become almost inextricable from my existence. . . When you are transparent and open about not shrinking any parts of yourself to accommodate or make others comfortable, it encourages people to do the same.” Now, here’s a sentiment I can’t help but agree with!

Sure, a mug with an explicit, feminist quote is awesome, but the only sure thing that can trump that is an Adult coloring book. One that depicts images of carefree black girls, puffing on cigarettes and toting holstered Glocks. Her multimedia and 3-D art are powerful, but “drawing is my first love,” she said. The book is a result of her being in a “continual drawing groove,” so naturally, she arranged “the thoughts in [her] head” and turned them “into a project that [is] unique, accessible, and requires direct audience interaction.” The way she flawlessly maneuvers between different mediums, without deviating from her purpose is admirable. We can only expect more epic work from Makeda, so keep up with her creative journey on her websiteInstagram, and Twitter. Purchase her coloring book and other products HERE.

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