July 8, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Elevating Women and People of Color with Adri Norris

Adri Norris is on a mission to tell stories of women who have made history. She does so through her art, her teaching, and her speaking.

Adri Norris painting the Black Lives Matter mural in front of the Colorado State Capitol building. Photo by Andres Delgado.

Adri is especially interested in shining a spotlight on women of color who have been overlooked in our history books.

In this latest episode of the podcast, I asked her about her work, her teaching, and her activism.

Less than one month ago, Adri was asked to design and direct the Black Lives Matter street mural in front of the Colorado State Capitol building. She selected the words Black Lives Matter Remember This Time for the mural. We discuss those words, as well as the symbolic colors she chose and how she involved community members in its making.

I also asked Adri what steps white artists can take to be helpful right now. Spoiler: This one's on us. African Americans have been fighting this fight for centuries. It's our turn to educate ourselves. Still, Adri had some helpful insights to share.

Listen Now


Music by Wildermiss.

Highlights

  • Many ethnic groups in the U.S. in the 19th century didn't even have citizenship. 4:10
  • The four distinct series of works based on the quote “Well-behaved women seldom make history” from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. 5:28
  • Working with supports of varying shapes. 8:28
  • Adri wants her work in places where everyone has access to them. 10:04
  • Working with groups, organizations, and schools. 12:34
  • Getting paid for her work in the community. 15:33
  • Choosing Afro Triangle Designs as her business name and the part The Da Vinci Code played. 17:28
  • I wonder if I've been too Eurocentric in encouraging artists to use their real names for their art businesses. 18:48
  • Adri practices capoeira, the Brazilian martial arts form. 19:35
  • Adri is asked to create the painting of the Black Lives Matter street mural in front of the Colorado capitol. 20:35
  • The words of the Denver BLM mural are “Black Lives Matter Remember This Time” and the paint colors symbolize the different shades of skin tones that Black people tend to have. 21:39
  • Why Adri chose those words for the mural. 23:06
  • “This is not the first time in which people have come together to fight over these issues.” 25:33
  • “I feel like once we know the true story, we have to tell that story.” 27:34
  • How Adri used white in her mural to symbolize how people of color and black people exist in white spaces in this country—and how she involved other people in that process. 28:48
  • The news coverage didn't tell the whole story. 32:28
  • Exhaustion sets in and Adri had to take a week off. 34:08
  • In order to feel safe, Adri remains vigilant and has had some odd interactions with police. 34:55
  • How white artists can help Black Lives Matter. 37:36
  • How a landscape painter, for example, could take a stance and not sound performative. 40:00
  • What playing into “the script” means to Adri. 42:10
  • “Discomfort is where we learn.” 44:30
  • Adri's book recommendations. 45:52
  • Adri's plan for a graphic novel that is based on the history of legislation that hindered the right to vote for people of color. 47:42

Mixed media painting of Audre Lorde by Adri Norris
©Adri Norris, Audre Lorde. Mixed media and watercolor on board. Used with permission.

Mentioned and Recommended

Adri Norris doing research. Photo by Lisa Rundall photography.

About My Guest

In her art, Adri Norris shares stories to educate people about women of the past—hoping to inspire young girls with role models they’ve never seen before. Listening to the voices of the unheard makes adults think more about what they have and what they have yet to gain.

Adri was born in Barbados and raised in New York and New Mexico. A former U.S. Marine, she says she was raised to be a leader—to help people and improve lives.

Support her work: Patreon or send a donation to Afro Triangle on Venmo.
Follow her on Instagram.

In Context

The Vote on PBS

You know(ish) about women's suffrage efforts in the mid-19th century by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But do you know the rest of the story? Do you know about how intertwined suffrage was with racial justice? with the temperance movement? This 2-part series, The Vote, aired this week on PBS (and is currently available to stream) is a must-see.

The 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment is this year. On August 26, 1920, women in the U.S. finally got the right to vote. But that doesn't mean that all women could freely and safely exercise this right. Watch. This. Documentary. !


Music by Wildermiss.

What We're Working On

Did you know it's Photo + Video Month? It is! At least inside of our community.

Now is a great time to work on improving your images for social media, your website, and more. And my Creative Content Camp, part of the Art Career Success System, will walk you through the process of amassing a library of compelling images and videos. Join us now!

 

2 comments add a comment
  • Wow of wow. Thank you Adri, for your generosity in this conversation with Alyson…and Alyson for bringing this to your readers. I listened through twice bc it was so packed with inofrmaton and knowledge…and will take longer still to digest and think about.
    Made a list of references, and “to dos.” Now following Adri on Afro Triangle.
    With respect to hope. I have a sliver of hope… that in this moment, enough people will seize the opportunity to make and be part of much needed change.
    Thank you both.

    • Alyson Stanfield

      Thank you for listening, Christine. Adri is inspirational. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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