Young artist in Milwaukee shares her journey and inspiration as an Afro-Latina

NOW: Young artist in Milwaukee shares her journey and inspiration as an Afro-Latina


MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58 NEWS) --An Afro-Latina artist in the Milwaukee area aims to impact people and provoke mixed emotions through her artwork.

"Not Latina enough or not black enough...I know when I was younger, skin color was a thing, like, when I would tell people, like, I was Cuban," Anamarie Edwards explained.

Edwards is currently the lead-teaching artist for the Environmental Arts Internship Program at 'Artworks for Milwaukee' and the lead photographer at 'Gaining Visuals.'

"We focus on Black narratives in Milwaukee and like, Black businesses, entrepreneurs, influencers and things like that," she said..

Edwards grew up in Alabama but she's not your average southern gal.

"I might listen to Bachata music and then listen to R&B," Edwards said.

The multidisciplinary contemporary artist was raised by a Cuban mother and an African American father.

"That stereotypical loudness was always there and lots of music, the food was like one of my favorite foods growing up, and even now still is-- empanadas. On the other side, on the flip side, so soul food--collard greens, fried chicken mac and cheese," she recalled.

Edwards told CBS 58 that she's always been proud of the fusion of both cultures, though growing up in the South she constantly felt like her identity was a 'show and tell.'

"I would get in trouble for taking my hair out at school," she said. "I would take my hair down a lot and show people like, 'look this is what it looks like,' you know, like 'this is what it is.'"

Now, as an adult, Anamarie Edwards said as societal expectations continue, she draws inspiration from that---literally.

"Being called unprofessional in multiple situations, being asked to, like, straighten my hair for certain events or feeling like I had to do that for certain events, or you know, 'you can't listen to certain music in certain places,''" she added.

It wasn't until she moved to Milwaukee about 5 years ago, that she began to focus on her artwork, which she describes as a direct reflection of her identity and experiences

"When I hit my 20s and I moved to Milwaukee, a lot of that started to matter, so me not being fluent in Spanish or me not knowing certain Cuban the Black community there is colorism, and like me, being more of a light skinned-girl and claiming to be Black sometimes, is difficult, so when I do wear my hair certain ways it's like I get certain looks but when people learn more about me they're always like 'oh ok, like, I get it, I understand, like, it fits,'" Edwards shared.

The young artist said she aims to push the envelope with her art.

"A lot of people fall in love with Cuban cars, but they don't understand how actually sad it is because they just, they really can't get access to newer cars so they're forced to drive these really old cars form like 18, 1900s and it's like, they deserve better transportation," Edwards said, as she held one of her pieces.

Edwards said provoking emotions and deeper feelings through her photography, paintings and mixed media is the goal.

"I'm transferring old 1950s Newsweek magazines I got from in a state sale, and they were made and printed in the 1950s, so they're like insanely racist," she said.

Edwards said she's constantly educating herself to teach others what might not be taught in schools.

"What does it mean to have a hidden identity and like, what does it mean to have a history that is hidden in today's education system," Edwards said.

Some people, however, have expressed their disagreement with her artwork.

"'Oh, she might spark too much conversation,' or 'she's too political,' or 'this is too much for this type of audience to bear,' so sometimes my work is not admitted to absolutely everything," Edwards shared.

Since the age of 12, she's remained true to herself, and she hopes to be a role model for other little girls who look like her and see the world through a different lens.

"One could never be too proud of who they are and who they come to be," Edwards concluded. "My goal is to empower people to be themselves, unapologetically."

Check out her portfolio via Instagram.

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