She had tall hair, and blood dribbling down her neck like sweat.

She wandered around the room, ghostlike, covering her face with a masquerade mask. Removing the mask, chunks of flesh could be seen falling away from the area about her eyes.

Winnie Hartman-Gross is a self-taught makeup artist who runs A Winning Blush, a business of her own, where customers can hire her for a variety of occasions. She also works with actors in television, film and theatre.

At RAW: natural born artists, her zombie-faced models waded through approximately 600 individuals in Howard Theatre Wednesday evening.

Raven Lynn stands eerily after her makeover. The gelatinous makeup, which stretches over her lips, limited the motion of her mouth. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Raven Lynn stands eerily after her makeover. The gelatinous makeup, which stretches over her lips, limited the motion of her mouth. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)

The guests came to see her work, along with the creations of more than 50 local independent artists. RAW specifically chooses artists from all walks of life to participate in various international venues. The organization strives to showcases a diverse group of creatives while also helping to educate the public about art awareness.  

One of the featured painters, Roger James, said RAW is unique because it not only showcases visual art, but other mediums as well, including music, fashion and makeup.

AnaYelsi Sanchez

“Is it weird that it turns me on to think of your brown skin against my white skin?”

“I used to sleep with this Mexican woman but she was educated.”

“You’ve got the best of both worlds – big tits and Asian.”

AnaYelsi Sanchez reached out to women of color as well as ethnic genderqueer and non-binary individuals of color who present as women.

Her goal was to collect offensive phrases directed at them during a romantic encounter. She then used use them as a backdrop for one of her paintings.  

“It’s not a pretty piece,” Sanchez said. “The things written on it are not pretty statements, but it’s probably one of the pieces I’m most passionate about,” she said.

Through her work Sanchez explores social justice issues she feels strongly about, such as decolonization, racial justice and reconciliation. Additionally, she tackles gender and sexuality minorities in the Church.  

“Little Mulatto Curly Sue” is a piece named after a comment she received from a stranger. “As a woman of color, you encounter a really weird combination of racism and misogyny,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also  works with The Reformation Project, a grassroots LGBTQ organization,and is a founder of www.browneyedamazon.com, an online community that explores Latinx feminism in the context of mainstream feminism.

Justin R. Canja

Justin Canja doesn’t paint because he wants to; he does so because he has to. He finds ties throughout history to the present and expresses his philosophy that nothing is new and everything  we do has been done or created before.

“[I was] a kid who was interested in art, but always afraid to do it,” Canja said.  “If you’re a guy in second grade and you’re painting flowers versus kids or people killing each other with swords, you kind of get looked at differently.”

Canja explained it took him a long time to accept who he was, but now he calls art “his love”. “If I didn’t do art, I would probably go insane,” he said, while bouncing on his toes.

He said there is no such thing as an original because history repeats itself. He expresses this through each piece by finding old magazines and incorporating the clippings into portraits.

Kayon Cox

Cox got her first watercolor set when she was 6 years old. She describes art as both her escape and her voice.

“I think RAW helps you to get exposed to an audience that you wouldn’t necessarily just meet on any given day,” Cox said.

When she was younger, she would only work with black and white, but as she evolved both as an artist and human being, she slowly began to incorporate color.

Her pieces now stand out in the room for their vibrancy. “I can tell you painted it,” she said, referencing what others have told her in the past. “Because it has every single color in it.”

She used to paint constantly, but was not confident about art. She would store all of her works in her mother’s basement.

Upon inspection, it appears her works explore her sense of self.

“I am my love before I am anyone else’s,” she said while describing a piece.

Another painting was based on one of Cox’s past relationships.

It is titled “I Play Myself.”

The painting features a  woman’s body, which represents being in an unhealthy relationship and overcoming it.

“Every single piece I have has something about me in it,” Cox explained.

For a time Cox did not display her work, in spite of her family’s encouragement. Whenever one of them asked why she didn’t exhibit her work she would respond, “because I painted for me.”

***

Other artists featured at the venue were  Preet Mandavia and Tyrone Singletary. Mandavia raises money with his photographs and uses the funds to hand out sandwiches to the homeless community in Washington, D.C.

Tyrone Singletary II- Photography. Tyrone Singletary II answers questions about his photography, which typically features intense emotion. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Tyrone Singletary II- Photography. Tyrone Singletary II answers questions about his photography, which typically features intense emotion. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)

Tyrone from Alchemist Photography stole a camera from his sister in the 1990s. In his words, it was a “big old brick digital camera … about two megapixels.”

Now he enjoys photographing nature and often finds himself waiting patiently for the perfect shot, blending patience and serendipity.

Lionel Daniels finishes his self-portrait, in which he depicts himself behind bars. Many of Daniels' works feature African Americans calling for change in American society, a common theme throughout the event. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)
Lionel Daniels finishes his self-portrait, in which he depicts himself behind bars. Many of Daniels’ works feature African Americans calling for change in American society, a common theme throughout the event. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)

By the end of the evening, it appeared the vast array of onlookers walked away with a more broad sense of reality and a greater appreciation of unique artistic styles.

Featured Photo Credit: Stephanie Quin, an inventive hair stylist, distributes information and haircare products. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Reporter)

Julia Lerner is a freshman multiplatform journalism major and may be reached at julia.lerner.96@gmail.com

headshot_rayeRaye Weigel is a sophomore multiplatform journalism and English major and may be reached at rayanneweigel@gmail.com

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