Editor’s note: The below gif contains a flashing light.
Artists are tasked with questioning the narratives, events, and movements of the present moment. In their ongoing investigations of the world, they offer us a glimpse into the future. When the events of today are challenging and tomorrow seems uncertain, there is always an artist ready to share their viewpoint on what is possible.
In this portrait series, I ask artists working in Texas the question: “As a contemporary artist, how is your practice shaped by current events?”
Below, Chelsea Akpan responds:
I feel like oftentimes I’m looking back and reflecting on things that have already happened. Much of my inspirations stem from my childhood; interpersonal relationships, cartoons, comics, etc. I think that’s why so much of my art has a nostalgic feel to it for viewers.
I also like to play with themes and motifs that are more timeless. So, no matter what’s happening in the world at any given moment, it can still apply in a way. When I write and illustrate about characters with arrested development or fears of isolation, I’m pulling from my own feelings and experiences. But this can also be the feelings others have had during the first year of the pandemic.
Maybe subconsciously I do pull more from current events than I realize. History repeats itself, and the conversations we’re having now will continue.
About the Artist
Chelsea Akpan is a cartoonist based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Most of her work is characterized by color and original characters, evoking a sense of comfort and nostalgia. She’s currently working on a few comic projects, and she also aims to write and illustrate a children’s book.