How did you become an artist?
I was exposed to art at a very young age through my parents and grandparents and it was something that built up a lot of confidence in me. I struggled in school with reading and writing and had to take one-on-one classes in reading, math and speech. Art was something that I felt immediately good at; it let me create my own world & my own answers, and it was something other people recognized that I was good at. I would be asked to design posters for school, locker decorations, cards, etc. This was something that made me feel like part of a community and it also made me feel powerful. When I was young I don't think I recognized it as art but more as something that connected me to other people.
What inspires you?
Everything inspires me but it usually takes something special to pull the inspiration out of me. It usually hits unexpectedly. I try to prepare myself for those moments by carrying around a paper and pen or a recording device so I can capture the moment of inspiration and expand on it when I have more time.
How can art be a tool for speaking out, for creating change in the world?
I think that everyone can relate to the idea of making something or bringing something to life. The action of creating is a powerful thing and it gives people the space to feel that power through the creation of whatever it is that we might be making. I would say that I have used art to change myself more than anything else and through that change it has affected others. I have learned about myself and what is important to me through creating and taking in art. I have used art as therapy and come to understand who I am on a deeper level and I work to bring these techniques into the world I work in by telling my story, performing and asking participants to explore and experiment with the same ideas. When I go into a classroom I quickly recognize the youth that are struggling the way I was when I was their age. They may learn differently or be dealing with obstacles and issues at home that get in the way of learning. Knowing how art and creative play gave me confidence and the tools to grow inspires me to pass these things on to a younger generation with the hope that they will find a passion and confidence that will carry them through their life.
“As a child, art gave me a sense of self-worth and confidence. As an adult, it has done the same but has also made me recognize my connection and responsibility to my community.”
How has Intermedia Arts been a part of your story?
Roy Mc Bride asked me to be a part of a show in 1998. It was my first paying gig and it was at Intermedia Arts. In 1999, I became more deeply involved when I was part of a team of artists who started a program called The Encyclopedia of Hip Hop Evolution. Intermedia Arts has been a connector for me and has introduced me to other local artists, organizers & supporters through a variety of programs and events. Intermedia Arts is where I learned that there were grant programs for artists like me, and through individual mentorship from some of the staff I learned more about the business side of the art world.
How has art changed you?
As a child, art gave me a sense of self-worth and confidence. As an adult, it has done the same but has also made me recognize my connection and responsibility to my community. It has connected me to others like myself and made me feel connected. It has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember so I don't know if I can say how it has changed me. I feel like art has created the person that I am.
What do you see as Intermedia Arts' role in the community?
I think one of Intermedia's main roles is to provide opportunities to build leadership in the community through their programs, shows and exhibits. Through this role they also create community and connections between artists and the community. Intermedia Arts inspires people to create, to be active and to try something new.
DESDAMONA is an international award-winning artist, who has taken her distinct lyrics, sound, and artistic stylings to audiences from Minnesota to Hawaii, from Puerto Rico to Germany; gracing some of Hip Hop and poetry’s most illustrious stages. Desdamona has had the pleasure of opening up for distinguished artists including Wyclef Jean, GURU, Bahamadia, Zap Mama, Black Uhuru/Sly & Robbie, Saul Williams, Ursula Rucker, KRS ONE and Rhymesayers Artists. She has also shared the stage with other influential Hip Hop artists including Canada’s Eternia and bgirl Rockafella. Desdamona has worked in over 200 schools throughout the Midwest, conducting workshops and as artist in residence, working with more than 10,000 students in public, private and alternative schools as well as colleges and universities. She has also worked in residencies and workshops in Stillwater Prison, Shakopee Prison, Red Wing Juvenile Facility and the Juvenile Detention Center in Minneapolis MN.