Meet the wonderfully unique Makeda Lewis. She’s a psychology major at Georgia State, an artist, a free spirit, and overall someone you ought to know.
What kind of art do you do?
Right now, I’m working with wood and burning it. I’m going to be working with styrofoam wig heads also. I’m moving towards more 3-D platforms.
What inspires you and your art?
Everything inspires me. I consume as many things as possible. I feel like that makes for more interesting work. I love to read, I love different music, I love old religious architecture, I love German Christian art and Muslim and Buddhist architecture. I get a lot of inspiration from words that I read and conversations that I had.
God. I’ve been drawing since I was I little. The funny thing is that I use to hate art in high school and even college. It was so boring. There were a lot of basic drawing classes. Eventually, I realized that the basics were actually really important in order to put something together that is powerful and means. Everything that you do is on purpose. Each characteristic is being done on precisely. For example, in one class, they focus on lines: the thickness and the placements are really important. I could draw this awesome sketch of a falcon on a woman’s body, but if I had lines that were done with more intentional detail, the piece is going to have a different affect on the viewer. Because it’s done well and with the proper technique, the message can be translated in a more powerful way.
I eventually changed my major to psychology because it was something more lucrative and practical. I don’t want to be a starving artist. I, do, however, like psychology. I was thinking of being an art psychologist. I like how learning about psychology effects my art. My understanding of the way people think changes the way that I create.
Now, let’s talk hair. How did you transition to natural hair and ultimately to shaving it all off?
I had a relaxer in high school. I did have long hair, so I guess that was cool. In 2009 I told my mom that I wanted a fro. I was just trying to be rebellious. From then on, I started growing my natural hair out. I was still getting my hair straightened. Then, started a serious of many different looks: I had a bob, went back and forth between mohawks and other short cuts, and eventually cut it off. It was a 3 year process to get to where I am now.
How did you feel when you cut your hair off?
I remember just looking in the mirror and thinking, “This is what I’m suppose to look like”. It was one of those true moments when the outside perfectly matched the inside.
My mom didn’t really care. My Grandmother didn’t like any of my hair styles. She was concerned that my hair would be “nappy” or crazy looking. My friends have always loved my hair styles. My favorite reactions about my hair are really from little kids. They always wonder if I’m a girl or a boy because they’re not use to seeing someone defy what they understand is a woman.
What is your definition of a woman?
I really don’t know. I’ve been kinda thinking about this recently. I’ve been reading this book called Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Estes. It’s a compilation of myths and stories of what she calls “wild women”. She says it’s the base of women kind. it’s this connection that women have to the spirituality of womanhood. I feel like this book is changing my ideas of what it means to be a woman. I do not think that men and women are the same. The differences are more on a scale. I don’t want to define by comparing the two either. I think when I identify with myself, I identify as female because of my biological make up and me feeling comfortable in this body. That’s a much more straight forward classification. Womanhood is much more complicated and is hard to define in a few sentences.
Have you have ever had a moment that you’ve been completely honest with yourself? The peace that comes from that is greater and more rewarding than the false sense of security that comes from hiding who you are and hiding what you think. It’s just so much more freeing. There’s always someone that doesn’t fuck with you for who you are. A lot of human problems starts with our inability to be honest with ourselves. I would just encourage people to be authentic.
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