Symposium Year



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Start Date

2-8-2020 8:00 AM

End Date

2-8-2020 12:30 PM


Artist Statement

The Pearl of Life is a short children’s book written and illustrated by me. The story features a young witch named Sophie who goes on an adventure to find the Pearl of Life which will rejuvenate the dying land of her village. I felt urged to create this book because I have a desire to see more stories about black people that are fun fantasy stories for all ages. While things are improving with media--such as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Black Panther, and Cannon Busters among others-- these kinds of stories are in the minority. An overwhelming amount of media with a black lead or black cast are centered around historical drama, slavery, gangs, poverty, and the repeating themes of ‘Black struggle stories.’ While some may argue any representation is good, it’s important to think about how the representation affects the minds of black children: seeing black people constantly in chains, shot and killed, or unimportant characters consigned to the background. This is why my story features black characters who are not written with these struggles infused into their very being. I also decided to focus the story on a female lead because, out of the stories that do exist featured black people, black women are even less likely to have their own narrative. I want a change, and I am taking the initiative to be that change. Inspired by the art style and atmosphere of Studio Ghibli movies and the work of Yoh Yoshinari ( particularly his work on Little Witch Academia), I sought to create a world that had a whimsical sense of adventure, a world where there may be danger, but you know everything must turn out alright in the end. I initially sketched out every page on paper, going over the thumbnail and rough sketch process many times. Afterwards I completed the pages digitally, and I printed and bound my first book by hand. The book presented here was printed by a manufacturer after editing. I have received a lot of interest and excitement about the story, so I encouraged to make more books and more worlds. My goal: that anyone can read this story and enjoy it, as it is meant to be fun. For me, it’s incredibly important that some things exist in this world just to be healing, just to be enjoyed. I am very happy that others can derive joy from things I have created with my own mind and hands.

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