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Meet the Juror for See My Color, Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell

The juror for "See My Color" is Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell. Nzinga is a mixed media artist and designer from Denver, CO. Her portrait work features acrylic, paper, fabric, oil bars, charcoal and pigment. Nzinga fuses traditional art forms passed through the Diaspora to create work which speaks to the power of history and how visual art aides in defining culture and identity.

Her subjects are Black Americans and often women, placed in regal and empowering poses and scenes. Her work mimics African American stitch patterns and expounds traditional southern textile pattern methods. Her collage work is hand torn and arranged to create colorful and highly patterned people who resemble fabric.

Her interest in fabric and textiles is why her subjects are clothed in intricately designed patterns. The designs mimic the history and style of African Ankara fabric and introduces bright color and patterns to high end clothing designs. She has recently begun recreating the designs for a clothing and home décor line.

Nzinga began her career as an artist in Denver, CO. She painted abstract and realism portraits and ran an art gallery. She also created art programming for nonprofits and private and charter schools and ran a Black Arts Festival. She made a name for herself as a teenager on the spoken word poetry scene and traveled the country performing her written work with her art on the cover. While traveling Nzinga felt more and more inspired to create images, particularly the missing story of the black woman. “I felt that when I was telling a story in a poem, people had to have read what I read, seen what I’ve seen to sometimes get the deeper purpose of my work. When I paint my story, a person can look at it and come to their own conclusions in their own time. I can really hit them hard but not have to bear the responsibility of having TOLD them.”

She started learning to paint in acrylic 5 years ago. The transition made her focus more on line work in her paintings. She began to study stained glass windows and the ways portraiture can be broken up for messaging. This led her to study the work of quilt and collage artists to loosen up the images and create more movement and include symbols specific to the Black American culture. Her subjects are all powerful and composed. It’s especially important for her to highlight the pride and the beauty of her community.

In her murals and public works, Nzinga feels she has the opportunity to promote pride and connection. Her figures are juxtaposed and expressing joy, hope and the love of everyday life. Her work features Black women, highlighting the beauty of this culture and the ways in which it is the same, and connected to many other cultures.

Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell is currently working on new pieces and creating a community art space in Washington, DC’s Ward 7 with her husband, James S. Terrell and their 3 children. Together they have a line of home goods, accessories and products featuring their artwork. Nzinga has been the subject of features on multiple news outlets including the Voice of America and The Washington Post.

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