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Rising Stars: Meet Rachel Crosby

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Crosby. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My love of art began at a young age. I was constantly doodling on the side of my homework, drawing the cover of Disney movies, or seeing how fast I could draw people from memory. I would fill up sketchbooks of anything and everything, from still-life to portraits. I learned about surrealism, cubism, pop art, and other popular art styles in middle school, and in 6th grade, I picked up a paintbrush. 

I’ve always resonated with the quote by Pablo Picasso, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.” Over the years I would only paint when “necessary”, for school projects or just when I had spare time. It wasn’t until college that the use of art would become so essential in my life. I used art as a tool to heal, express, and communicate what I deemed important. It was then, I discovered other people had admiration (outside of my family) for my art. 

Since then, I have been growing on my practice as an artist, working on building a social media presence, networking with other artist, and finding opportunities to navigate this art scene. Lately, I’ve been showcasing my work at local art shows, pop-ups and even had the chance to create my first mural! 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I’ve learned that the things that come easy aren’t appreciated with the same weight as something that you must work hard for. This road hasn’t been smooth but I’m very blessed with people who continue to challenge me, inspire me, and help me grow as a creative. 

Some of the struggles I’ve faced throughout this journey are creative blocks, self-doubt, and community. I have a notebook full of ideas to produce but sometimes I have moments when I don’t feel like creating for blocks of time. Learning to know when to push through a creative block or know when my mind/body needs rest is a balance I’m still mastering. 

Self-doubt is something I think everyone deals with, especially when you are putting yourself out there for the world to critique or admire. To combat that, I do internal work to remind myself; my journey is going to look different than someone else’s and that is perfectly ok, don’t compare my beginning to someone else’s middle, and give myself some grace. Also, hyping yourself up helps too! Yes, sometimes you are your harshest critique but that just means you also need to be your biggest fan! 

Finding community is so important, to have a group of people who know what you’re going through, can help you work through it, and support you through all stages is crucial in all parts of life, not just art. I’ve been blessed that even in this pandemic I’ve had many opportunities this year to meet, collaborate and network with other artists, but I’m struggling to find my community of Black Women artists out here in Denver. So, if ya’ll are reading this, come find me sis! Haha. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Right now, there is a shift happening in my work. I’ve been focusing on creating work related to the African American experience which I still plan on doing but in a more intentional way. I want to story-tell through my paintings, so I have been creating bodies of work that shows; underrepresented backgrounds that seem to be overlooked, mental health in the black & brown communities, and exposing all the spaces we occupy that are unnoticed. Currently, what I am most proud of is simply the fact I am still creating. I think that it is so easy to get discouraged when you feel like your work isn’t as popular as others or you experience gatekeeping but not letting those things stop me from creating and sharing my work is something that I’m proud of. 

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
Growing up, those who knew me would see a different side of me than I would show others. I was shy in public but would be dancing and singing when I was around friends and family. I think growing up in a predominately white environment fostered that introvert in me and unknowingly allowed me to appreciate my Black spaces/culture more. I had and still have a love for the outdoors, I liked exploring different plants and animals and even had a period where I would search and collect bugs. Besides art, science and history were my go-to classes! I enjoyed learning about the scientific method, our earth’s tectonic plates, and living organisms, and their vital processes. It was in high school that my interest in history grew, I had a teacher expose me to Black writers, the Harlem Renaissance, and my love for Black history flourished. I also grew up with an appreciation for music, my dad is a pastor so gospel music would fill the house on the regular. He introduced me to jazz, rhythm, and blues and the essential throwbacks. With all my different interest’s art is and will always be a central focus in my life. 

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