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Meet Destiny Belgrave, Fulton Street Window Commission Artist

The Fulton Street window commission is a yearly project whereThe Laundromat Project commissions a 2-D image or illustration from a local artist. The vinyl artwork lives on the public-facing window of The LP’s office at 1476 Fulton Street in Brooklyn for one calendar year, creating an outdoor art installation that engages neighbors and passersby. Destiny Belgrave is the inaugural artist to create artwork for this commission. Her piece, titled “They Hold Me,”  depicts care and belonging through the embrace of an ancestor. We reached out to Destiny with some questions to hear more about her creative practice and the inspirations that influence her work.

The Laundromat Project: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are the places and people that ground you and your work? 

Destiny Belgrave: I’m Destiny Belgrave, I spent most of my childhood in Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy. I am of Bajan and African American backgrounds and I identify as bicultural. I love food and love exploring through what I can consume. For me, I am grounded through the spiritual and familial. My family, ancestry, cultures, collective memory, and the lands that I call home all give myself and my work a foundation to stand on.

Daddy, 2019, Papercut

LP: You work in a variety of mediums but your work in cut paper and collage really stands out. What about that medium speaks to you and how did you come to it?

DB: I happened upon papercuts and collage by happenstance. I’ve enjoyed collage in the past in high school, but didn’t really think much of it. Fast forward to college and I’m primarily working with digital media, but also thinking in my mind about how I’d like to move away from it a bit and work more traditionally, you know, just in case technology stops being accessible to me. Lo and behold, my computer quits on me and I now have to make work without it. I suddenly have to actually figure this out. From there I just made a mixed media piece using paper, and I kept exploring paper, and now here I am. 

The more I worked in paper, the more I realized I love paper. It’s a timeless medium, for years it’s been used to record history, tales and traditions. I use paper for the same things, but for my own loved ones—recording our collective memories, experiences and histories. What I also love about paper is its flexibility and just how many amazing types of textures, colors, and appearances it can have. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and the lines and forms that I can get from cutting paper are so clean and gorgeous: sharper than what I could do with pencil, paint, etc. 

Basically, paper is amazing.

LP: Themes of family, care, and spirituality run throughout your work and are illustrated in a very figurative way. What are some of the influences or inspirations for your focus and how you choose to draw your subjects?

DB: I use family photos, my own memories, family members’ memories, and intuition to make my work. Whatever feels particularly compelling from those sources, I’ll build off of. Like if I find a photo that makes me feel really warm and fuzzy, or it’s composed really nicely, or if my mother tells me a story about her mother and it moves me, then I’ll make something using that. Essentially everything starts from a familial image, memory, or tale that moves me in some sort of way. I have to feel something and be connected to what I’m referencing in the work.

After The Christening, 2019, Mixed Media

LP: Your illustration for the window of the The Laundromat Project building on Fulton Street talks about ancestral love and support, how the idea of togetherness and bonding is a birthright for yourself and others. What is your advice for people wishing to cultivate more of this in their lives?

DB: Start small. These are very big grand concepts that can be overwhelming for someone. I would say get in tune with yourself a bit and extend outwards. Learn to bond with your body and spirit, and find individuals that feel good to be around. Every person you meet won’t be your close BFF, and that’s OK. Don’t force folks to fit into a mold, it’s OK to search for the bonds you want, but don’t force it. 

LP: What do you love about Bed-Stuy?

DB: Bed-Stuy has a place in my heart: I remember it from what I experienced in my youth up until young adulthood. I loved the diversity and authenticity of the people and neighborhood. The mixing and mingling of different Black and brown cultures and peoples. Cheap yet filling ethnic foods, kids playing in the fire hydrants, hanging out on the stoop. Beautiful brownstones, neighborhood gardens. I definitely have a nostalgic view of Bed-Stuy, things are changing [now] and it saddens me, but I still got a lot of love for Bed-Stuy.

LP: What are you working on right now? How can people stay in touch with you? 

DB: I have three shows in September, one at Future Fair, another at AIR Gallery and a third at Monique Meloche in Chicago. It’s been a busy time, I’m looking forward to treating myself and thanking my body properly after all of this. You can keep up with me through my Instagram @destinybelgrave and subscribing to my mailing list through my website at destinybelgrave.com.

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Destiny Belgrave (b.1996) was born and raised in Brooklyn NY and nurtured with a Bajan and African American upbringing. Belgrave graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2018 with a BFA in General Fine Arts, and a concentration in Painting. Since then her work has been shown locally and internationally. Currently she is an A.I.R. Gallery Fellow and a resident of the BRIClab: Contemporary Art Residency. Belgrave is a mixed media whirlwind, almost always using papercuts as her primary medium and family as a source of inspiration.

CULTIVATING CARE RESOURCE LIST

  1. “Dr. Ha Vinh Tho on reimagining, cultivating, and practicing happiness” in Deem Journal
  1. How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong
  1. Sisters of the Yam by bell hooks 
  1. Undrowned: Black Feminist Lessons from Marine Mammals by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
  1. Jambalaya by Luisah Teish 
  1. The Perfect Nap with Tricia Hersey of The Nap Ministry on Irresistible Podcast
    1. Full transcript here
  1. You Are Who I Love by Aracelis Girmay

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