UNCG Magazine

Artist Kidd Graves gives BLM art extra dimension

Every artist has a story.

Kidd Graves ’20 arrives for the planning meeting for the large plywood storefront at Elsewhere Museum. What’s the message, the tale to tell?

The artists gather round, wearing masks or social distancing. They build on their discussions from the weekend before: it’ll be the narrative of a Black girl, developing her voice.

The center will be a butterfly. Kidd will help craft the dramatic three dimensional wings, a symbol of metamorphosis. She proposed the 3-D flower designs, and will create those as well.

With the given name Karena, Kidd identifies as a woman sometimes, as non-binary gender sometimes, she says. She aligns with the Black Lives Matter movement. “I don’t necessarily consider myself an activist. I consider myself an artist.”

Kidd earned her UNCG degree in sculpture in May, and is now enrolled in graduate school at ECU to hone her work. She wants to explore, through her art, “my Blackness, my queerness.”

She has gained a great foundation. “The School of Art was awesome.”

She values how she learned to create not just sculpture, but various media, including painting. An undergraduate research grant in Summer 2019 allowed her to study with fellow Spartans in Italy.

And she likes how artists at UNCG have been open to discussion and hearing others’ differing views. Is destruction of art, such as statues, ever appropriate? Should White artists create art about George Floyd or Emmitt Till? The students talk through these topics and more, in a civil, lively way. UNCG is a safe space to express yourself and learn.

And it has readied her for her future work. “I want to find a way to make the audience comprehend in a different way.”

By Mike Harris
Photography by Martin W. Kane


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