I Shenna Vaughn was born and raised in Queens NY where I lived with my parents and siblings. My parents worked hard just to keep food on the table, so luxury items weren’t an option. Growing up I always had a love for art. I remember I use to get the comics from the Daily News paper and recreate them free hand. So every Sunday I would wait until my dad was done with the paper and then the comics were mine. I didn’t realize how good I was until one day I was sitting at the kitchen table and a family friend saw and said “girl did you trace these? They’re great.” And offered to laminate my drawings.
Being raised in an African American household I learned very quickly that in order to be successful I would have to be a doctor, a scientist or a lawyer. This included working hard and not having fun while doing so, all of which I had no interest in. I just wanted to be an Artist. As a child my joy for creating was stifled at home and not nurtured in school.
I was often told artist don’t make money and they aren’t recognized until they are dead. At the time I had never seen or heard of an artist that looked like me that had made it so I believed it.
Art was my way to dream and escape the pressures of life. As I attended elementary I was teased and picked on a daily basis. It was a lot of pressure to hold in the tears from some of the hurtful words that were said to me and about me. I knew if they saw me cry, it would mean I was weak and it would just get worse. Although I would hold back my tears in their presence it didn’t stop. I went on to middle school and High school where I thought the worst part of childhood was over. However it had just begun the teasing and taunting I encountered on a daily basis for my entire middle school and high school years was just to much and I couldn’t bear it any longer. I felt like I was the story of the ugly duckling with my skin to dark. Art was all I had it was my outlet, my coping device, my healing and my lifesaver.
I graduated from High school and worked multiple jobs in various fields from medical to coaching gymnastics to put myself through school. I attended FIT and later received my Bachelor’s degree from Hunter College. I worked for a nonprofit for over ten years and was laid off. This was a shock and then again it wasn’t. I had been wanting to leave that job for quite some time. As God would have it I was laid off. It was a huge adjustment because as far back as I can remember I had never been unemployed. Although being an artist didn’t appear at the time. I picked up a brush and the feeling that came over me was one I hadn’t felt in years. The feelings of freedom, joy, healing, abundance and life saving was so overwhelming. From that day forward I decided to be the Woman, The Artist, the Healer, the Life Saver not only for myself but for all the brown girls, boys and anyone else who doesn’t see or think they can. Art saved my life and my art can save and free yours. I share my story in hopes of making a difference in someone’s life.
I am a contemporary artist I enjoy textures, geometric shapes, jolted lines and deep rich colors. My visual rhythmic cadence sets the stage for the expression of personal thoughts that all must confront. It invites my audience to enter a personal conversation of reflection and confession.
My painting titled Dream is a testimonial for coming to terms with my very own dream verses listening to everyone else. This is a challenge that we all face when following our own dreams. My body of work is creative, intuitive, and autobiographical and reflects my life’s experiences I hope to inspire and touch lives.