Pink Things is constantly seeking to evolve and enlarge our audience and artists reached and represented through the platform, striving for equality across genders, sexual orientation, and race. We saw an underrepresentation of people of Color in our submissions, so Pink Things Vol. III features only creatives of Color in order give them a space and platform to voice their truth; and hopefully encourage more creatives of Color to participate and submit to Pink Things in the future, knowing it's a safe space to do so.
I asked Anika Kowalik and Gabriela Riveros, two great friends, creatives of Color, and supporters of Pink Things, to curate the third print edition, adding another layer of authenticity and storytelling to the zine. Here I have interviewed them, giving you a chance to get to know the minds behind the curation of Pink Things Vol. III, and a platform for Anika and Gabi to tell us about their personal experiences.
Sarah Sickles for Pink Things: So can you tell me about yourselves? Your backgrounds? What are you up to now?
Gabriela Riveros: I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I’m first-gen and my family is from Asuncion, Paraguay. I have always loved to draw so I was placed in MPS art-specialty schools that piped-lined me all the way to attending MIAD for illustration. Since graduating in 2016 I have been freelancing illustration and design. As of now I work for a large retailer as a textile artist; outside of my day job I have been developing more personal work.
Anika Kowalik: Well, I was born and raised in Milwaukee, my identifying pronouns are she/her/they/them, and I am queer. My background is African American and Polish, hence that last name, aha!
I’m finishing up school at MIAD soon and my plans after graduation are to search for graduate programs on the east coast. I’ve visited New York and D.C. before and there is just something that attracts me to the coast. I think the most impacting thing is seeing so many POC working regular jobs! As funny as that may sound, I don’t see that in the Midwest. I felt that I was supposed to be there and that it was a first for me – that I didn’t feel alienated.
PT: As two identifying people of color, of what importance is this volume to you? Of other publications doing similar things?
AK: IT’S ABOUT TIME AHAH! There is too much cis White representation of what people of Color are like. The thing that really bothers me is when it becomes fetishization. Nothing is more disgusting than ogling over someone because they aren’t “the norm” or they are “exotic”. When I flip through magazines and see people of Color I can’t help but to acknowledge the fact that they are being used as accessories! Especially, in fashion; there is always a season where dark skin is in and I find it sickening.
GR: It’s extremely important that POC artists get equal platform. I hope in this quest of reaching out to these artists, that we can look at it as a way to get more integration of minority artists and audiences to make those relevant connections. Too often we see shows and publications treating POC art as a *special* or tokenized addition to their gallery/publication. I want this to be an opportunity to open up the audience and diversity of this great publication, to give POC artists more opportunities to promote their amazing work. To be honest, I have yet to see more art platforms for POC doing something like this. Of the few I am familiar with though, one of my faves would have to be Art Heaux. They celebrate WOC art and intersectionality. I love it.
PT: Are you excited to be curating this edition of the zine? Do you have any additional thoughts on the curation of this issue so far?
GR: Yes! I actually have not had too much experience with curating, so I’m honored to do it for a selection of artists that are extremely talented.
AK: I really am! I think it’s a great opportunity to collaborate! I hope this edition makes people realize that in order to not be apart of the problem, you have to admit your ignorance and that your experience isn’t like ours -- to stop downplaying how we feel. Hopefully, POC will be more open to having conversations about what bothers them and that their White friends won’t clam up and just talk it out. Nothing says ignorance more than someone shutting down because of their pride. I find it to be the most ineffective way to make progress and in a scary way it shows how psychologically embedded racism is in our country.
PT: Are there any common themes in the work that you’ve seen? What are they (besides pink!) and why do you think they were formed?
AK: Experience that tells their truth. I don’t think it was necessarily formed; it happened on its own. It is the nature of POC coming together and sharing experiences. It is telling the truth through their eyes. That’s what we need more of.
GR: I noticed the common themes of Portrait (Identity), Romance (Exploring relationships, but also the feel and mood of romance captured in a piece of art), The Body (Celebrating the feminine, abstract qualities, the body hair, the curves of the human figure), and finally the Safe Space (A group of friends, a women naked in her bedroom, pieces that speak to our own safe spaces that we create out of necessity). I think they were formed because many of these artists represented work with the self and body, and also contemplate our relationships to ourselves and each other on an emotional landscape through the human figure.
PT: Do you have anything to add about yourselves, Pink Things, or the importance of equal representation that we didn’t touch on in the interview?
GR: Overall, I’m so happy that we created an opportunity to educate people on the severe lack of minority representation in art by highlighting these amazing artists and their meaningful work for the minority audience.
You can read the full interview in Pink Things Vol. III, available to pre-order on April 13, the one year anniversary of Pink Things!
You can also find out more about Gabi and Anika below:
This interview was conducted via email and has been condensed and edited.