Black History Month Artists

February 24, 2022 • Betty Brandt

When Deonna Craig graduated from DePauw University in 2004, she had no idea she would become a full-time artist. She majored in communications and sociology and only took one art class during a winter term.

One of those wine and canvas places opened the art door for her when the instructor recognized innate talent. Deonna says on her website, “I have fallen in love with the magic of painting. It has allowed so many eye- opening experiences...Experiences I have the honor of sharing through art... with you. Thank you. Thank you for sharing this experience we call life, if even for a moment, with me.

Now she is the 2021-2022 Visiting Artist at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the 2020-2021 Virtual Resident Artist at The Madam Walker Legacy Center. She is also the President of the Eighteen Art Collective comprised of the 18 artists that painted the Black Lives Matter mural on Indiana Avenue in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. The Eighteen Art Collective has as its mission to collaborate on the betterment of Black creatives and the community that they serve. Their vision is to promote awareness and engagement of the arts by supporting local organizations, providing community education and mentorship, exhibiting to the public and serving as a resource for other artists.

As an outgrowth of that work, she calls herself an “Art Activist.” She wants her work to spark conversation. We’ll have a chance to take part in those conversations around her art during the month of February, 2022. She’ll be one of two featured artists in the East Gallery for Black History month.

The other artist is Ashley Nora. Her website says, ”As an artist, I work hard to develop paintings that speak to myself and others about the beauty that lies beneath each and every human beast. My greatest inspirations are my grandmother, Nora, and my favorite artist Basquiat. They both live on through my brand and art. I choose bold colors to express how I see everyday people, animals, and objects. I do not merely want to capture the image with my brushes; rather, with careful, color strokes I want to give each piece life! I take on commissioned pieces and tailor it to each client's individual desires while I put my own creative touch to it. I especially love when clients allow me full creative freedom to create masterpieces that will last a lifetime.”

Ashley is self-taught and left a career in corporate America to pursue art full-time.

These two artists will bring energy and vibrant color to our East Galley. You can meet both on Sunday, February 6, 10:30am-12:15pm when you are invited to an Artists’ Reception. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions and gain insights about their work.

Betty Brandt is the Director of the Community for Contemplation and Justice at St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis. Committees under her umbrella include: Racial Justice, Social Action, Creation Care & Interfaith Relationships. She also directs the Art Ministry with the help of Jenny Godby.

Betty Brandt