Hi Addie Kae, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born in Denver and lived in the inner and outer parts of Aurora. My dad’s side of the family has lived in Denver since the 30’s. They’ve always lived within the Five Points area. My mother’s father lived in Lakewood, growing up and later moved to Grand Junction where he and my grandmother raised my mother. We were back and forth between Denver and visiting Junction every other weekend. I am mixed race, half Caucasian (M), and half black (P). My upbringing is traditional in the sense of blending cultures; but also just as none traditional as such. Mom taught my darker skinned brother and I how to ride horses. Dad taught us how to drive through Denver without getting pulled over. My paintings are based on photographs of my mixed race family. My skin tone gives the impression that I don’t struggle fitting into the majority, which is untrue. I use photographs of my father’s side of the family because I feel there was so much beauty in their lives, even as they struggled to live up to white standards. I see the abstraction of my figures as symbolic of imperfection, as is all creation through human hands. By attempting to fit into either category of black or white I find myself as a grey paint stroke overlapping the two, not completely blending into one color or the other. Acrylic paint can be moved and maneuvered smoothly; it doesn’t mix easily and dries quickly allowing me to create unblended shapes. The thick unblended strokes I make represent my experiences as a mixed race individual, my lack of acceptance in modern and political society, and my struggle to fit into one race or the other.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When starting a painting, I usually feel anger or sadness for my family members and what they have had to live through. I demonstrate these emotions through my color choice. The purple in my work is the most consistent throughout my pieces, to represent my blended ethnicity. I use a lot of pink in my artwork to symbolize the universal love of one’s self and others. I add the ghostly blue to suggest the idea that these are memories from the past. My paintings explore the complicated and controversial relationship our country has developed between blacks and whites; although much time has passed, there has been little progress in mending the relationship between the two. I believe in education and creativity, and through my imagery I aim to educate others on the minority figure as beautiful, relatable, powerful, and belonging in art just a much as the white figure. I struggle with my light skin, and that I am considered passing. I struggle to find my place between my own two cultures and within my current mixed relationship. It wasn’t easy. The city in which I attended my undergrad was populated with the majority Caucasian students. I found myself the only black (or minority) in my classrooms. This prompted much conversation for and about my work. I cleared misconceptions and communicated my thoughts and feelings through my work even if it was in disagreement with other student’s views on race. It was hard work mentally and physically to continuously speak up about racial equality, but it was always worth it. I can assure I was constantly engaged in these sort of conversations, not only led through my artwork but also because I am passing, and was sometimes overlooked when others engaged in conversations entailing racism. It taught me to be open in discussion and how to communicate through healthy and productive means.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Growing up in the Denver/Aurora area means that my family and I myself have a lot of history. When I did have a close friend come to visit my husband and I were excited to take them around the areas that we grew up. Our first stop would be to see my family’s long time friends at Café Paprika in Aurora for fresh Hummus and Baba Ganoush. Then to a Palateria on Colfax for some Fresas con Crema. We’d stop in a couple of Panaderias along Colfax for some Conchas. My husbands parents did not speak much English when they first migrated from Mexico. They shopped and ate where felt comfortable, and could speak their own language, that felt authentic and reminded them of home. Something that I can proudly say is easy to do in parts of Aurora and Denver. We’d then continue down Colfax and point out the Fox theatre, and how much time I spent going to see plays with my grandmother and that downtown Aurora is working replicate some of the changes Denver has made to the Points or now known as Rino. We’d continue down Colfax pointing out where the Little Sambos used to be that my dad learned to cook breakfast food that he then taught me. Continue past the Ogden, a theatre that still runs concerts, well before covid. We’d keep heading towards the capitol where we would check out one of my favorite Vegan places to eat City O’ City, which currently has a few of my works hanging up at. Finish our drink and meal, head over to the Denver Art Museum, maybe the Kirkland, the Still, and the Contemporary Art Museum- if they are super into art. Finish off the evening with pie and Ice cream at Sweet Sweetz.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My entire family of course, without them I wouldn’t have the wonderful photographs my artworks are based off of. I am grateful to my parents who both had creative interest growing up (though both ended up as Bankers), they still encouraged me to pursue my creative passions and interest. I appreciate how much of my childhood was spent in different museums, across the country as they encouraged me to explore and understand all aspects of my ethnicity; even the negative. My drawing/painting professor deserves as shout out as she pushed me to be the best artist and student that I could be. Constantly challenged me as an individual and overall believed in my work and me. She sparked a passion in knowledge and education that I had never truly felt before. She would easily bring me back into the light after I started to lose my way in the dark. She taught me about artist that inspired me to pursue art as my career. Such as Kerry James Marshall, Henry Taylor, Kara Walker, Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, and Tracy Eimen. She lent me books from her magnificent library of artist and would share the work she discovered during her travels over the summers. Literature, lectures, critique, and friendship, she shared all she could with me to continue help with my artistic goals. My husband. My poor, poor husband Angel Lopez. He helped me hang my senior show in High School, and my undergrad. A true academic; was my personal tutor, paper editor, and the audience for all (and there were many) practice speeches, and artist talks. Assisting me to memorize art history on flash cards to the extent where he now knows much of it himself. Instead of meeting to study together in libraries, working on his laptop in dirty/noisy art classrooms, while I scribbled away on something, making him stop to take a look at my work for his opinion. Cooking us dinners while I spend all day in the studio. He helped me build and stretch my first canvas-to renovating our garage, which is now my studio space. He attends countless show openings, museum exhibitions, despite his interest and work in criminal justice, and yet still tells me how much he enjoys art at the end of the day. Running to the closest craft store because I’m nearing the end of my tube of white and I can’t be bothered to stop painting or run out while I’m having a painting epiphany. He’s done so much for me to encourage my art and me. I could sit here all day and name all of his sacrifices, but he’d hate that. He deserves so much credit and recognition for the aid in my success, along with just being a good person in general.