We had the good fortune of connecting with LP Ǽkili Ross and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi LP Ǽkili, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
My business is reflecting the divinity in ordinary people and things. I create art with the intention of causing people to stop and reflect and think more deeply about life. My subjects and content are mainly Black and Indigenous folks and their spirituality and I think my favorite subject/content combination is capturing a relatively mundane moment in someone’s life, which is why I build my work off of actual photographs, and adding so much complexity and passion to the scene that it becomes an almost surreal experience to witness through the art. I think the world needs to see these experiences represented more often and with more celebration.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m excited about doing more public art. Lately I’ve been doing more large scale installations and I find the potential of these spaces inspiring. My art centers the experience and spirituality of Black and Indigenous peoples and with these projects I am able to represent us and bring us into spaces we are not often included. It hasn’t been easy to make it this far. Unfortunately, there are a lot of stigmas around Black artists and Black art, a lot of boxes we are expected to fit into. I don’t, and my work doesn’t, fit easily into any boxes. I think I’m most proud of staying true to my own vision, even when others couldn’t see it yet. I’m also excited about a new creative project, “code name” Opulenity, lol. It’s not really top secret, it’s just not quite ready to be revealed to the public yet but it’s a way for me to help other people to be represented powerfully and authentically. Through my brand and my story I’ve been able to celebrate and share the beauty of my culture and I want other Black and Indigenous artists to know that they can do the same and still be successful.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My favorite time to come to San Diego is for Comic-Con so if a friend was visiting I’d tell them to come during this time. Usually we hang out in the Gas Lamp Quarter if we’re not at the convention itself.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Throughout my professional art career one of the most important people who has helped me define my voice and expression is Jihan McDonald. From the ground up they have helped me get to the crux of what I am creating, not just how I’m creating. Because of my technical past I’m very passionate about technique, sometimes so much so that the subject matter of what was being created got lost. Jihan helped me search within myself to rediscover why I create what I create, not just because it looks cool but because of the process I went through to choose this subject matter and commit myself to manifesting my vision of it into the world. People say a picture is worth a thousand words, Jihan can find the words in the picture and share them with an audience so that they can understand the meaning of the art. If you’re a creative professional who needs words, you need Jihan. One of Jihan’s superpowers is real-time conceptual translation; I can just speak and they seem to magically understand what I’m trying to get at and be able to articulate my meaning through their writing. It blows my mind every time. Do a search, you’ll see, there’s only one Jihan McDonald.