Shanequa- a Black LGBTQ artist, activist and entrepreneur- reflects the pain and beauty of the struggle to not just survive, but to thrive, through her art. She embodies the healing power of creativity, community and story-telling. Growing up in the housing projects in Yonkers, she became involved with dealing drugs, and as a result of a deal gone wrong got her jaw broken. Having lost many of her friends to violence or prison, this was a major wake-up call for her. In 2010, Shanequa was featured in the documentary, “The House I Live In” about America’s unsuccessful, costly and racialized War on Drugs tied to the dysfunctional prison system. She credits being able to share her story as life-changing.

Based in NYC, she currently channels her energies into her paintings, which often incorporate bold colors and text with social justice themes and imagery. She is also a prolific street wear designer. Many of her designs include empowering messages, such as t-shirts stating "My Black Life Matters" or vintage jackets hand painted with "The Rare Ones Never Conform." Drawing inspiration from her own experiences and other artists, such as Nina Simone and Basquiat, her art is a “reflection of the times” and serves as a medium to tell her story her own way. I recently completed my first art residency followed by my first solo show at Riverfront Art Gallery. I’m looking forward to showcasing my art all over the world.