The Young Society: Asheville’s young creatives

Visual and conceptual artist Diamond Alegra Nater. Photo by Leslie Frempong
Visual and conceptual artist Diamond Alegra Nater. Photo by Leslie Frempong

The Blue Ridge slopes and progressive culture of Asheville make it a Mecca for creativity. The city serves as as a transitional place for some artists — from musicians and poets to painters and sculptors — and a solid home base for others. Here we’ll introduce you to five dreamers and doers, all younger than 30, who you might be unfamiliar with. Many of them create on the side while juggling busy lives with part-time jobs or full-time coursework at local colleges. Some of them create amazing pieces with no formal education.

Diamond Alegra Nater

Photo by Photo by Leslie Frempong
Photo by Leslie Frempong

Young Society: What do you create?

Diamond Alegra Nater: I am a visual conceptual artist who works mainly with watercolors, acrylics and marker. I create whatever comes to mind, but typically it’s nature-based or space-related. I enjoy making things that are creepy or strange-looking as well. I try to stay away from realism in my original pieces; I like to make things that stem from a fantastical point of view.

How does your heart relate to your art?

I aspire to put forth my wildest dreams and inspirations through my art, creating things that seem like thoughts from a daydream. It’s the best way I can share a part of myself with others. I’m able to put what’s in my mind on paper and give people a glimpse of how I see the world. I can’t create my art without my heart — every piece I make has a little bit of me in it. I think that’s why it takes me so long to finish projects sometimes.

What are your goals for the future?

I would like to become a tattoo artist when I’m finished with school. Right now, I’m working on my portfolio and trying to challenge myself to do more than what I’m comfortable with so that I can get better and have a lot of diverse material to present.

 

 

 Aliya Smith

Self portrait by Smith
Self portrait by Smith

YS: What do you create?

Aliya Smith: I am an illustrator and photographer. I studied fine art, but early on in my professional career, I decided to explore more illustrative work and it just came so naturally. I focus on destigmatization of the feminine through body-positive, sex-positive, self-love-advocating art with facets of surrealism to remind viewers that femininity is magical as hell.

How does your heart relate to your art?

As a staunch intersectional feminist, my heart sits heavy with love and passion for people and building others up. So my art is a direct extension of that passion. I also have a strong interest in entomology, botany, and the cosmos, so being able to incorporate all of those aspects into my work just gives me more motivation to keep creating it. I never run out of drive because I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pen. So while I believe art is a learned skill rather than just some mystical talent we’re born with, I’ve always had a proclivity for creating. I feel it’s the biggest identifier to which I attach myself.

What are your goals for the future?

My goals vary in severity from wanting to be a tattoo artist and be able to give more permanent art to collectors to having a solo exhibition in the MoMA. I want to look into art therapy for people on the Autism spectrum and I want to be an international muralist. My goals are thrown all over the place, and maybe they’re farfetched, but I don’t know how to limit what I want to do with my life and my art.

 

 

Lamar Bradley

Photo by Stephanie Rogers
Photo by Stephanie Rogers

YS: What do you create?

Lamar Bradley: I’m an electronic music producer.

How does your heart relate to your art?

My art basically is nothing but my heart, I guess. Everything I do basically stems from this need to make something that I can relate to and reflect on. I do my best to make that possible for anyone who listens to my work, as well. I’m just trying to be as honest as I can with myself and the world around me.

What are your goals for the future?

My future goals at this point aren’t really set in stone. I know I want to give back to the black community by sharing my knowledge with the children who don’t have the same opportunities to gain access to necessary resources the way that I was able to. I’d like to one day act as a mentor for young people who want a way to express themselves musically or verbally. It’s all kind of blurry at the moment, but I know I want to guide people to being in tune with their creative selves.

 

Amira Kotze

Photo by Leslie Frempong
Photo by Leslie Frempong

YS: What do you create?

Amira Kotze: I paint portraits of beautiful people who are willing to share a vulnerable space with me. I paint/draw surreal scenes (for myself) that contain metaphorical meanings that reinterpret my life — like a dream and it’s interpretation. I free-write and journal [but that’s] not for public yet.

How does your heart relate to your art?

I try to do everything in relation to my heart. I love painting and drawing people because I love hearing each person’s personal story — people are beautiful and complex. It’s easier for me to understand myself and the love I can give and receive when I collect visual information from other beings.

What are your goals for the future?

I want to continue to create art until I die. I want to create art that is accessible beyond elite art societies and collectors so that my art can be a shared experience rather than collectors’ items. One of my dreams is to run a daytime gallery and nighttime disco in the same building — an overall safe space of expression for people to connect and think with other curious people, or just be themselves in motion around other complex and dynamic moving beings. Also, I want to raise a pug with my best friend Erin.

 

Jack Tignor

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset
Photo by Montrey Gamon

YS: What do you create?

Jack Tignor: Under my music alias Neko Striipe, I make alternative hip-hop music with a group my friends and I created called nomorelight. NML is a team of rappers, producers, singers and visual artists trying to make a mark on the current trap/melodic hip-hop scene.

How does your heart relate to your art?

I have been writing poetry and hip-hop lyrics since I was 13 years old. It has helped me grow, get through tough times and progress my music stylistically. Writing is not a burden for me as it is for many others, it’s a passion. Furthermore, rapping and/or singing those lyrics brings about a flame in my writing that I never once thought possible. I fall in love again and again with my music’s multifaceted creative process. Regardless of the success it does or doesn’t bring, I can’t imagine ever quitting.

What are your goals for the future?

We try to maintain a daily level of productivity so that the output of music is at a weekly/bi-weekly rate. The goal is to have consistency but, more importantly, quality. We plan on doing lots of local shows as spring rolls around, including house shows primarily for students. We want anyone and everyone in Asheville searching for new hip-hop to get to know us, and, hopefully, welcome our presence as arguably some of the only musicians bringing this particular genre to the city. Nomorelight music can be found exclusively on Soundcloud with music from Neko Striipe, Lil’ Miami and Baby Boy.

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About Makeda Sandford
1/2 of Let It Be Yours, a lifestyle blog based out of Asheville, NC. Follow me @ohmakeda

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3 thoughts on “The Young Society: Asheville’s young creatives

  1. Tony Rolando

    It would be great to have some links to the works of these artists.

    How about it?

  2. Walker

    I would love to see/hear the work of these artists! Could you add links?

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