Meet Gio, the Brazilian artist exploring black feminism through otherworldly illustrations
21 Mar 2016
gal-dem caught up with the 19-year-old Brazilian artist, Giovana Rodrigues. There is something otherworldly, yet very real about her work; Gio explores themes of black feminism, female empowerment and social issues through her vibrant, pastel-coloured designs.
Where does the inspiration behind your work lie?
My inspiration comes from my experience, everything that goes on around me, especially of people. I like very much to get references on instagram, on pinterest, in songs, movies, books, groups that often deal with social issues and that I participate [in], and other artists. I love Brazilian artists who work a lot with women empowerment, with feminism.
Your artwork manages to be political while satirical, would you say all of your work is a reflection on your thoughts and feelings or more observations of the world around you, or both?
I like to get involved with social issues, and my focus was always the black feminism and racism. We (black women) have a huge lack of [representation], and I wanted to work with something on top of it. And I already drew a long time ago but I felt insecure, so after militancy and empowerment I decided I needed to do that; that’s when I started working on top of [representation], and unwittingly ended up depositing social criticism that annoyed me, but always subtly and comically. So, it comes from within, but has a huge job of empathy, I use what I feel, and what other women feel, and try to reflect that in the drawings.
How long have you been creating this beautiful work for, and when did it begin, was there a particular moment in time, or is this something you have been doing for a while?
[I’ve been] drawing for a long time, since childhood, I just [didn’t] know what target. I had desire to work with political themes, but didn’t know how. After getting involved in groups that promote debates and, when I noticed the drawings already carried a political charge, I felt that I had to show the black woman, the woman outside the default. So I decided to show them. [For] a few months, I’ve posted random drawings, but they were always about cute girls that we’re used to seeing, nothing new or anything that would make [a] difference, and that makes me very discouraged, so I lost the fear and started posting [on] Instagram and Facebook.
Is drawing something which you do full-time, or do you have other commitments to juggle, and if so how do you manage it?
Now that I finished [at the] faculty of graphic design and I quit my old job, I do full time. However, [I don’t] always post frequently, have a [break] of two or three days [for] drawing because they are many ideas. Sometimes I get [many] without knowing how to work with all of them at once, and I have to stop and get organised before I waste time.
What are your hopes/aspirations for the future? Where do you see your art going – are you concerned about it at all?
For now I’m letting it flow. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m very happy to have my work recognised, if only [by] a few people. I plan to apply everything [to] clothing and articles for decoration, but I want to do something bigger. My focus has always been to bring representation and empowerment for black women, especially, and I intend to work better with other social issues that bother me, [such] as the violence the LGBT+ community is suffering, the question of genre, aesthetic standard, etc. Where this will take me I don’t know; I care about doing important social work, recognise that it’s not as big as need be to mobilise many people, but it’s just the beginning. I am very grateful for the space that you gave me.