Every Friday we utilize our blog/social media (@the.mahogany.room) to promote a black artist. This week we have chosen Deja Pocahontas Mays, a Tate County, MS artist.
Deja (22) recognized her gift of art at an early age, when she was tested for “Gifted Art” in middle school. From there, she won first place in Mississippi’s “Promote the Vote” in high school and was honored at the state capital. Her talent continued to shine throughout her years at the University of Mississippi, where she was recognized out of almost 800 entries in the Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition for both painting and drawing.
When asked about these particle pieces, Deja said, “The drawing (first picture) is significant ,because this is probably the first time I really just pushed myself to create something different. It is suppose to be a piece that depicts black beauty in a different way. The painting (second picture) is about relationship struggles and how you can be hurt and blind at the same time.
Being black definitely influences her work. She strives to change the views society has on black people through depicting us in a more positive way. Black women have a reputation of being overly sexualized and promoted as “welfare queens.” She hopes to change people’s views on black women, by highlighting our strengths and struggles versus these negative depictions. There is a special type of beauty in a black woman, beauty that surpasses our sexualization, and Deja recognizes and emphasizes that. When painting and drawing, she makes a conscious effort to make her work FOR the uplifting of black people.
When asked about her future, she said, “Well I hope to attend portfolio school soon and start learning the skills necessary to being a creative director.” After establishing herself as an artist, Deja hopes to contribute to developing the arts in the public school system.
If you are interested in Deja and her work, follow her on instagram @dejapocahontas.