Interview by J. Thomas Agnew

BOOM Universe’s 2022 residency program season is kicking off with multi-talented artist Clara Kent. Most know Kent as a rising musical performer but as you will see in this brief interview, Clara is looking to build upon what it means to be an artist utilizing different forms of expression on her own terms. 

What are you looking forward to most in participating in this residency?

I’m looking forward to furthering my acrylic painting skills, drawing fantastical landscapes and architecture, and learning methods for better composition. Also, self-documenting and diving into film work!

How important is it to be a part of a residency that is not project-based?

It’s vital to me. I’m currently unlearning a codependency practice that many artists face. We often feel we must create for something other than love or self-expression. Having a residency allows me to come into the Fool’s Journey, meaning I can release the need to exist or create for something other than the process itself. It gives me room, both physically and mentally, to step into a fully creative space without a deadline looming over my head or rushing towards an accomplishment or goal. The main goal is to learn, unlearn and enjoy the process.

How important is it to have a space to create away from your living space that you probably have also worked in?

Again, it’s vital! I need alone time in a concentrated space to focus and immerse myself fully in the art. I’m highly intuitive about painting and use the guidance within to connect to the canvas. Being in a specific space that allows me room to be wild and untamed or even calm and still educes a genuine connection to an authentic experience and artwork. Also, it can be complicated to do this at home; my home is a space of rest and recovery, with limited space to make large-scale paintings, and inspiration can be narrow. Being around other creative people, having resources to grow as an artist, and a focus space to unleash artistically is undeniably enriching!

What have been some roadblocks you’ve encountered in being able to be your full creative self, and how do you hope to overcome them in a healthy way?

I can list many, but they all lead to one thing: well-being. Whether it’s inner or outer interference, I’ve come to see that without wellness of mind, body, heart, and soul, it’s not sustainable to create. We believe it’s noble to be a “struggling artist,” and unfortunately, many still follow that path. I was one of those people, especially as a teenager. Being Black in America, we are taught you are only worth your work. We are taught from many situations historically and presently that our art, labor, and time are worth more than the lives we live. I’ve recognized this in my views, tucked under deep pockets and grooves in my mind. Steadily, I’ve been clearing these beliefs and transmuting them using songwriting, journaling, art therapy, and many other self-reflection practices. This enabled me to return to art with joy as the centerpiece and not “accomplishment” or abusing art to “earn” satisfaction. I’m still a work in progress, and for that, I am grateful.

What do you think artists need more access to currently to help them have a sustainable art career?

I feel that a grounded business course would be excellent for an artist. Something that centers on well-being practices and introducing staple business/marketing skills would be a great way to aid entrepreneurs like me. Also, art therapy for an artist who suffers from depression/anxiety or traumas. It helped me return to art and changed my approach to art and many other creative practices. Also, additional grants/funding that allows artists to hone skills without projects attached or to help pay for therapy! Many artists want help but have limited financial support to do so. Being an artist is stressful and can feel taxing mentally and emotionally. Having a compassionate person to talk to about your life and current events can do wonders for your overall health and artistry. People say life imitates art, but honestly, life is art; art is life. They are the same, so we must nurture ourselves so that we can continue creating and sharing with others.

For more information on Clara Kent, her music, past press, and more, CLICK HERE