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Meet Dana Todd Pope

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Todd Pope.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist. I remember being in preschool and we had an assignment to draw something. I don’t remember the exact thing that I drew, but I do remember my teacher’s reaction to it. She looked at my drawing, praised it, Then proceeded to show the other teachers. She kept telling me how much she liked my drawing. I remember thinking at that moment, “Hey, I’m really good at this…”

Whenever someone would ask me what do you want to be when you grow up, I would proudly tell them, “I want to be an artist.” That changed however when I told one of my teachers that I wanted to be an artist. She told me, “Art was a good hobby but, not a real career and I should something else like a be a doctor or a lawyer.” People don’t always realize the power of their words. I believed her. It wasn’t until I was 27, that I was brave enough to go for my artistic destiny.

Please tell us about your art.
Well, I’m a visual artist. A painter. I’m also an author and illustrator. Recently, I’ve been appointed as an art director over an album project. I’ve been known to dabble in curation as well. I sew and sing (mostly in the car) as well. I’m an artist.

I like to make things with my hands. I always have. I don’t like to be boxed into one style or another because I feel restricted. Isn’t the whole point of being an artist to convey and explore my observations/feelings/perspective through my art? I think so…

I feel like I have to create. Just like I have to breathe, I have to create.

I guess I am best known for my children’s series. It’s been going strong for about 10 years now. I started it because I was tired of seeing black children displayed so negatively in mass media. I wanted my work to reflect my happy childhood on the South Side of Chicago and I wanted it to tell the positive stories that aren’t sensational enough for the 10 o’clock news.

I am also an abstract artist. I really love it. There is something so liberating about painting with emotions absent of thought. When I get too much in my head the paintings don’t come out right. I have to paint from a different source when I paint abstractions. Blue. There also must be blue.

I hope my work, in whatever form, is a source of inspiration to the viewer. Nothing is better than watching someone break out into tears with they come across my work. Or, when I receive an email, dm or photo of my work making someone happy. That’s what it’s all about.

Given everything that is going on in the world today, do you think the role of artists has changed? How do local, national or international events and issues affect your art?
I believe artists are the record keepers. It is our job to document the pulse of today for the understanding of future generations. As I stated before, I feel I have to tell the positive stories of my community through my art because many of those stories don’t get told on a larger platform.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
My work is available for purchase 24/7 on www.danatoddpope.com, Etsy.com, & Amazon.com (for pillows and my book). By appointment at my studio in the Zhou B. Art Center. You may also follow me on Instagram, @danatoddpope, to see my upcoming events. My work is on permanent display at the University of Illinois Miles Square clinic, Metropolitan Family Services facilities, the Board of Education, several schools, daycares, and clinics.

My current upcoming events are the Pigment Art Salon on October 7th at the UChicago Smart museum. I am also a participating artist in the Pigment Reveal during Art Basel in Miami, Florida, December 4th, 5th, and 6th. Find more information on my Instagram page.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dana Todd Pope

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