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Rising Stars: Meet Te’Arra Stewart

Today we’d like to introduce you to Te’Arra Stewart.

Hi Te’Arra, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I found my passion for art in my Freshman year of college. I switched my major from Animal Science to Visual Arts within a semester of attending The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. The Art Department at the University opened my eyes to different career paths I could take with art as a focus. I’ve done several internships at Ivy League schools like Yale and Princeton for Art Preservation and Conservation and curatorial studies. While in college I was commissioned a lot to do artwork for people.

So my Senior year of college I purchased an LLC and created Artbytsteew. After graduating from UAPB in May 2021, that summer I began a Low Residency MFA program at The Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts (one of the oldest art institutions in America). I’m projected to graduate in 2023 Summer. I currently work at The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff as the Grant Coordinator for the Art Department, while still running Artbytsteew. I’m currently just working and creating more work trying to build more exposure.

Alright, 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?
The road has not been smooth. The biggest obstacles I’ve had to overcome were finances and self-motivation. There’s a lot of self-reflecting that goes into being an artist. You have to truly believe in yourself and your abilities. You have to be vulnerable, honest, a critical of yourself to progress in life and within your art. As far as finances I’ve had difficulties finding a job or career path that sustains my lifestyle. It’s frustrating wanting to be free but having to work to literally buy time to work on creating freely. I have to humble myself on my journey and remind myself that this is literally just the beginning.

I’ve only invested six and a half years in art and I’ve accomplished so much. Stopping and smelling the roses is ideal especially when you always have to fight the urges of “not doing enough”. We’ve been conditioned by the capitalistic society we live in to always be in the act of producing and working. We determine our worth based on how much we’ve done. Being an artist is a rebellion to that and the mental, spiritual, and physical work to break free is excruciatingly rewarding.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m known for portraiture. That’s what most of my commissions are for. However, my more recent personal work consists of mixed media paintings of environmental figures and some nontraditional portraits. I was never satisfied with the traditional visual concept of portraiture. As I began my artistic journey I initially had an admiration for portrait artists and the technical skill one possesses to render a person so exquisitely that my jaw drops in awe of the subject.

As I’m developing as an artist, I start to question the optical bases of portraits. I now find that I am more interested in the subject’s daily environment, and how it profiles the subject. What I find less intriguing now is only rendering a linear image of one’s physical attributes. I feel that serves the person no justice in telling a person’s story.

Are there any books, apps, podcasts, or blogs that help you do your best?
I love the Water Woman, 19keys High-Level Conversation, and DCMWG podcast. It’s available on Apple, Spotify, and Youtube. These are a few of many podcast that speaks to topics such as divine feminine energy to daily news. One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, I first read this book in High School but it’s one that I always go back to and I’ve reread it several times.

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