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Art as Therapy with WomenStrong DC: Part 3 of 3

Renee Sakinah Figgers (pictured above – Renee’s documentation of the memorable experiences in her life)

Bob Marley said: “Love the life you live and live the life you love”, and I do. I’ve been doing it for 66 years. I put it at the bottom of this piece and used it as the theme for this whole artwork.

I wouldn’t say this artwork is a documentation of my life, because I decided to concentrate only on the good experiences. I would say it’s documentation of all the memorable experiences in my life that I think deserve to be preserved. That includes, as you can see, no men; there are only women in this art piece.

I’ve been a teacher, a dancer and a big sister. I showed my interest in the arts with my pictures as a dancer. I started dancing professionally when I became a wedding dancer years ago. I also included a photo of my mother when she was 13. It’s a photo of her around a piano. She trained to be a concert pianist, but that all stopped when she got married and we came into the picture.

One of the experiences I chose to document was my once in a lifetime trip to Africa. I always wanted to go to Africa and, through a friend, I got the opportunity to visit Egypt, see the pyramids, and ride on a camel. I spent five days and six nights there and it was a beautiful experience.

I feel comfortable in open spaces, connecting with nature, especially when I’m in the middle of America and I see an expanse of stars. When I look at the sky I feel free and so I included that. I used blue as the color in the backdrop and put stars and clouds back there because those are some of my favorite things.

Shaquilla and her black and white piece.

Shaquilla James

I used black and white for my silhouette because it stands out more. Previously, when I did art classes, I used to love black and white. Black and white allows me to bring out more and it’s more appealing to me. I don’t really call myself an artist but I like all kinds of art–drawing, photography, and I also write.

I didn’t want my silhouette to be one piece, I wanted it to have lots of different elements of art that I like come together to show a bit of who I am.

I put the scripture, ‘No weapon formed against me shall prosper’ because I like that scripture. I added one of my poems that I think best describes me; it’s called “The silence of a loud cry.” I also lost my child and so I wanted to carve out a space here for him underneath a rainbow with lightning and rain pouring. My baby’s name is Julius Sinclair Barclay James. He was supposed to be born on Valentine’s Day but I lost him on January 17, just a month before.

I like glasses, but I drew the glasses on my face like a superhero mask because I also like superheroes. I love butterflies because they are calming and peaceful so I used those too. I had my hair in a nice cut and I used to carry my pick around and you can see all of that there. I put wings on myself ‘cause I believe I don’t have any burdens on my shoulder anymore. Once I keep my wings flapping I’m fine.

*Bread for the City’s WomenStrong DC is a proud member of WomenStrong International (WSI), a consortium of non-profit organizations in five nations supporting women-led solutions to urban poverty.*

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