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Artist Bria Erby becomes visible through community and collectivism

Updated: Jul 9, 2020

By Shayler Richmond

Bria Erby, 23-year-old, Saginaw, Michigan native and recent Eastern Michigan University art graduate, is bringing color to the culture through her vibrant artwork. April, 2018.

Erby has been in love with art for over 18 years. One of the longest loves of her life. She currently enjoys creating most with color pencil on black paper because this style of art allows her make the colors pop and pay homage to Black culture.

Art is a love she was introduced to by her Aunt because at around the age of 5 she got her into drawing. Erby began drawing people and everyday things around the house.

“Art is very important to the culture. There are so many different forms and I gravitate toward visual because of its deep history and because I enjoy seeing myself expressed in different forms of art,” said Erby.

Since she was young she been attracted to drawing Black faces and highlighting the Black experience. She finds much of her inspiration through meeting people and social media. She enjoys most using her art to tell our stories and connect people.

“I want people to feel connected and see a version of themself in my work. They may not directly see them self but I want people to feel the sense of community, and feel the culture through the clothing, colors and liveliness,” said Erby.

She created one of her favorite pieces, "Black Bald Beauties," to celebrate four young women of color who cut their hair around the same time. This piece was important for highlighting the natural hair movement that is prevalent in the Black community.

“I tend to highlight black boy joy, and issues within the black community such as mental illness and police brutality. It’s important for me to stay relevant with what is going on in the world around us,” said Erby.

She has a dream of owning an art gallery to create space for herself and other artists, which will continue her life‘s work of broadening the platform for community based art.

“I want Black men and women to be visible I want them to see a piece of artwork and say they looks like me or I’ve experienced this," said Erby. "When it’s all said and done if black people can feel represented by my work then I’ll be happy."

Vote! by Bria Erby (24" x 36" acrylic on black canvas)

To view more of her work visit @artbybriaerby

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