The Idea of Reinvention
My first cerebral encounter with reinvention came when I was invited to be a guest on the US podcast, “Her Next Chapter” last year. Over my forty years, I had repurposed myself a few times, but I never associated what I was doing with reinvention. But as the new year begins, I have come to realize just how fundamental a word like that is to my self-identity.
I could spend a lifetime talking about how many times I reinvented myself without really knowing what I was doing. I have been a homicide analyst, a journalist, a manager of a catering business, a food truck owner, and a Realtor throughout my career. I am now a Marketing Director and an Artist.
Years ago, people saw me as disorganized and uncommitted. Although I do not take offense to these labels, the older I get and the more confident I am in myself, the more I realize that these descriptions could not be further from the truth.
When I was soaking up these experiences, they prepared me for where I am now, getting me ready for my truth. The truth says that my life is kept alive and rooted in change. My willingness to jump in with both feet and explore new challenges inspires and forms the foundation of my work.
Every time I paint, I reinvent myself, and It’s safe to say that I don’t have a particular style or if I ever will. Artists are supposed to have distinctive styles, but I have never followed the rules, so only time will tell if that changes. doing with reinvention. But as the new year begins, I have come to realize just how fundamental a word like that is to my self-identity.
I could spend a lifetime talking about how many times I reinvented myself without really knowing what I was doing. I have been a homicide analyst, a journalist, a manager of a catering business, a food truck owner, and a Realtor throughout my career. I am now a Marketing Director and an Artist
I look at my late 30s as my period of revelation. During this time, I understood myself as an avid restarter. For me, putting things down for a while and picking them back up again helps me approach them with a fresh perspective. I do this with books, television shows, and very much with my art. When I was younger, I was constantly told off for going off on a tangent and not finishing, but people didn’t realize that I always completed everything, just in my own sweet time. And not much has changed!
Let’s take my latest Restart project as an example.
In early 2020, I started painting “A Sabi, “ which showcased a confusing mix of west African symbolism. There’s the apparent kente cloth, followed by the less apparent ori face paint and the Sierra Leonean title.
Her image was, however, that of the Caribbean. She was born of a combination of African ancestry and Caribbean culture: her strength and wisdom were derives.
However, she didn’t seem finished to me. The Caribbean is vibrant, bold, beautiful, sexy, musical, and magical. In the end, I decided I didn’t quite capture that, so I added an abstract element to her facial contours that I now believe has bought her to life and helps tell her story.
I now feel confident enough to say that she has Akan Guang, Ga, Gbe, and Yoruba remnants in her Caribbean patios and embraces the plurality of her creole identity.
“A Sabi” is a reminder of the strength we possess if we are aware of not just our origins but how they shaped who we have become. My artwork reflects my belief that we should know ourselves as women, understand the quirks that make us, and accept them.
In 2022 we must rename our past labels and rethink how we view them.
Karen is no longer the impulsive jack of all trades who begins projects and never finishes them. Karen is a multifaceted creative fueled by a multitude of experiences that she uses to better herself and improve her art.
To be whole, you have to know yourself and accept yourself in your entirety.