Introduce yourself to our readers! Tell us a little bit about your background and arts practice. What are your main mediums?
When I'm not working or painting, you can find me sleeping, checking out live jazz, or taking walks in my neighborhood. I am not a trained artist, however, I was lucky enough to take summer classes in high school at Carnegie Mellon University's Fine Arts program. My art stems from thoughts and feelings I have that I may not know how to express verbally. I also sometimes make thoughtless pieces that represent the mood I'm in.
As a social worker, how does your professional work impact your art, if at all?
I am a big believer that art tells a story and most of my art tells a story that removes stressors I was facing in the time I was painting. As a social worker, my goal is to focus on the overall well-being of a person and a big one is stress, no matter where it stems from. In fact, I base my brand, pAint No Stress, on just that -- to creatively eliminate stressors through art, storytelling, and other healing methods. All this to say that social work has a big part in my art.
A Broken Heart Can Grow. 2017, mixed media. Alycia Washington.
How has the pandemic impacted your arts practice? Do you have advice for other artists in Pittsburgh and beyond?
The pandemic has enhanced my arts practice because more people are looking for activities to do while inside. Also, more people have paid closer attention to the injustices Black people have been facing. That has led more people to support my Black business. It's unfortunate that it takes a pandemic for people to pay more attention to injustices across the board, however I'm hoping this has opened the conversation to remain cognizant.
What was your inspiration for the chair you painted for the 90 Painted Chair program with the Arts Council and VisitPittsburgh?
As mentioned before, I love jazz so much! When I think of Pittsburgh, I think of the Hill District and its vibrant Black community and the music scene long ago. I painted Lena Horne who we as Pittsburghers adopted as our own. She represented class, feminism and social change, plus she was a lively jazz performer! When I think of Lena and her music, I think about how my life would've looked in those times.
What has been the most memorable part of your artistic career and why?
I have three: first, the day I saw my largest painting sold, framed, and hung in someone's home. Second, when I was asked to host my first collaborative wellness paint party for, and by, Black Queens in the community. And third, an amazing thing that I can't discuss right now - but will once it's finalized.
Dream Variation. 2020, acrylic on stretched canvas. Alycia Washington.
Created in response to police brutality during the coronavirus pandemic.