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Meet Trailblazer Ciara Elle Bryant

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ciara Elle Bryant.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Ciara Elle. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up in Miami, I always encountered vibrant color and textures. I never knew why I attracted to these things that stood out, but I was. I was obsessive when it came to images, static and moving… music videos, cinema, and magazines are where I found my love for art. I remember being a college drop out surfing Tumblr, and it hit me, “mostly everything you encounter has at least one photograph attached to it,” everything changed after that day. I was good at creating, but I was better at capturing and documenting. In 2010, I moved back to Dallas and enrolled in my first photography course. Up until that moment, I was pretty much self-taught and had already been experimenting with a bunch of techniques. However, I wanted the rigor of being creatively challenged and at the time I knew for me that was going back to school. From community college to now me going into the second year of my MFA program at SMU, I have had the chance to keep evolving as a multidisciplinary creative artist who focuses on discussing the identity of black culture.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There are still many nights when I ask myself why I am doing this or if I am talented enough to even put new work out consistently. However, it is a battle that I have to face every morning. I can’t let myself wallow in my pool of self-doubt for too long because I know there are other people doubting me. Being a black queer woman in an academic setting, I constantly get push back about the things I want to create. There have been countless times where I have been told to censor my work or myself to be more palatable. I have been overlooked for shows because my work was “too political”, but it’s all apart of standing firm in what you believe in.

The advice I give out all the time is to trust yourself. If you can trust yourself, you know your being will never lead you astray in any situation. There are going to be moments and times where it’s only going to be you making the biggest decisions in your life and if you can’t trust yourself, you will always be prey to not being true to what you stand behind.

Please tell us more about your artwork, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
Being a multidisciplinary artist means a lot but simple breakdown is that I am creating visual art in many different mediums right now. Most people recognize me for my photographic and mixed media work. Photography is like oxygen, holding a camera in my hands is me breathing that beautiful oxygen. I love composing images that will outlive me at some point. My favorite moments are when a viewer can identify with my work and can vividly describe how it makes them feel or what it makes them remember. Those are the moments that reassure me that I am making the right creative choices.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
besides trusting yourself, I would say the most important piece of advice is to build an ecosystem of friends and peers around you that will support you. Having a network that supports you is important, those are the people that are going to hold you accountable but also push you to do greater things than you ever imagined.

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Image Credit:
Ciara Elle Bryant

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