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Footpatrol and Converse Meets Joy Yamusangie

2020 has been a real turning point for us all, a year where creatives have found new ways of using their platforms to start conversation, discuss and engage in new ways with their audience through education and awareness. Another way has been through collaborations like the recently launched Converse x Denim Tears Chuck Taylor.

Awareness and change has been the topic of conversation for this year – Tremaine Emory of Denim Tears’ most recent collaborative effort with Converse portrays both of these by displaying a powerful graphical message on a very iconic silhouette.

Coming from a multi-faceted team, we want to use our platform to introduce and shine light on many of the talented creatives we discover. Many creatives are using their specialised medium not only to communicate a message, but also to amplify voices within their community.

We sat down with multi-disciplinary artist Joy Yamusangie to talk about the correlation between art and spreading a message in a peaceful yet powerful way.

Footpatrol: Joy it is lovely to meet you, how are you?

Joy Yamusangie: Today I’m good, it’s been a really unpredictable and uncertain time for many so I’m really just trying to take each day as it comes and celebrate the small joys in life. 

FP: As an introduction could you share with us and also to the Footpatrol readers a bit about yourself and what you do?

JY: My name is Joy Yamusangie, I am a multidisciplinary artist based in London. 

FP: What was it about Art that interested you so much to pursue it as a career?

JY: It has been something that I’ve always enjoyed since being a kid. I like working on new and exciting projects, experimenting with new mediums and connecting with other artists who love creating just as much as I do. 

FP: Your work has an extremely individualistic look. How did you come up with such a distinctive style?

JY: My style feels like it is the result of all of my influences, taste, experiences, material experiments, everything over the years merged into one. It’s a reflection of everything I am.

FP: Do you think your upbringing helped nurture those ideas that you had in your head when you began?

JY: I take in everything around me as inspiration, conversations, colours, memories. So naturally, my upbringing, my family and my culture has influenced my work. At the moment, I am really interested in the stories and rituals passed down within my family and finding visual ways to document these making these personal memories permanent. 

FP: The recent collaborative project between Converse & Denim Tears is one that is all about educating people on social issues & particularly pushing people to vote in the upcoming US elections. Have you ever used your artwork as an additional outlet to educate your audience on the wider spread issues in the world?

JY: Illustration has so much power, we use it for campaigns, infographics and to spread awareness. In the past I’ve used my work to talk about various issues, including the importance of voting in elections here in the UK. Sometimes images are able to communicate a message more effectively than words. 

FP: Tremaine’s use of the African-American flag on one of the most iconic silhouettes of all time speaks a very powerful message, it has helped encourage the dialogue on the Black American experience today. Do you feel your creativity & work can also help start conversation and inspire change?

JY: I really admire the clear symbolism of the African-African flag and its role as a symbol outside the United States. I’d like to think that my work has the potential to at least open conversations and start discussions on the themes present in my art. 

FP: What about other influences, did you have anyone that you looked up to when coming up with your pieces?

JY: Artists such as Issac Julien, Keith Haring (who had an exhibition in Liverpool that I saw in 2019) and Picasso’s ‘Blue Period’. 

FP: You also produced the award piece for the London Borough of Culture, how did this opportunity come about?

JY: They reached out last year and I sent over my ideas which they really liked. I spent over a month working at Chris Bramble’s ceramic studio in north London. He taught everything I needed to know about making plaster casts and working with clay. The end result was very different from my usual 2D work but has definitely made me keen to return to clay in future.

FP: You currently have an exhibition running at Home Manchester that launched fairly recently, how has that been going?

JY: Unfortunately I haven’t been able to visit the exhibition due to covid-19, but the gallery team are lovely and have sent me pictures and lots of updates and so that I feel very involved and from what I’ve heard it’s going really well. It’s great to be able to show my work outside of London. 

FP: Could you tell us a bit about the concept behind your exhibition?

JY: The exhibition is a collection of my own dreams and memories. Looking back to these moments for hints and revelations of my own future. 

FP: Thank you so much for spending some time with us Joy, it’s been amazing to be able to hear your story and share it. Before we let you go, is there anything you would like to share with the Footpatrol followers?

JY: If you can’t visit the show but are interested in reading more about my exhibition Blue Glass Fortunes, I talk more about it in @thisisanartbook issue 1. I’m also working on a new series of work with an exhibition to follow which I’ll be sharing info on via my Instagram and twitter @joyyamusangie 

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