Black Joy

This spring, release what’s holding you back | Black Joy – March 3 2023

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Hey ya’ll!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like spring… at least down here in Mississippi. It’s been sunny and breezy. And there’s a tree just outside my window in full bloom with bright pink leaves. I’m not mad at this at all.

Spring is that transitional period of preparing for the second half of the year.

Clearing out old junk around your house, slowly unpacking your warm weather wardrobe, brainstorming your summer vacation.

If you’re a part of the 2023 class of graduates whether it be high school or college, you’re probably thinking a lot about what life beyond school is gonna feel like – job or graduate school applications, or the many existential crises that I think most soon-to-be graduates go through.

Believe me, it’ll pass.

Wherever you are in your life, this is a great time to start thinking about what you’re working towards. Are you on the right track? Is there something you could be doing differently?

I’m not saying to beat yourself up, but just do a little inventory and clear out anything that is standing in between you and having the abundant and joyful year you deserve.

Oh, and thank me later.

Peace & Blessings friends,


“Do whatever you want in art and in life”: A conversation with artist Adrienne Brown-David

As you may have figured out by now, the Black Joy team loves us some Blackity Black art. From printmakers to collage artists, we adore elevating folks who are conjuring joy through the arts.

That’s why I couldn’t wait to speak with Adrienne Brown-David, a Black woman artist currently living in Mississippi, who creates some of the most beautiful images of Black women and girls. I stumbled upon her art at Oxford’s annual One Night Stand motel art show a few years ago, and it literally took my breath away.

The most memorable piece for me was “Swing.” It depicts a young Black girl in a white dress swinging high into a clear blue sky on a landscape that appeared to be a field with a small house far into the distance.

It was something so magical about seeing little Black girls sat against these beautiful lush, natural spaces. And at that point in my life I had never walked into a gallery or museum of any kind featuring this type of work.

And even now that I have attended a lot more art shows and the like, art featuring Black women and girls is still often a rare sighting.

During our conversation, Brown discussed her art-filled upbringing, what it was like relocating to Mississippi, and a piece of advice for bright-eyed young artists trying to find their footing.

Can you tell me about where you grew up and how that influenced your desire to be an artist?

I’m originally from St. Louis, MO, born and raised there until I was 21. And I’ve just kind of always been the artsy kid in the family. I was fortunate to be born in a family that nurtured that. My grandfather was an artist, he drew and painted [and] could airbrush…he was brilliant, a genius…My grandmother always made sure I had art supplies, crayons and paper…

And my mom was the same way…[she] started volunteering at a black art gallery in St. Louis. Because she could see that art was going to be a part of me as a person.…once I got to middle school, I was immersed in art… [and] I got to meet artists…I met Jacob Lawrence, before he passed away. I met Gordon Parks as a kid, so [my mom] just made sure that that was something that I saw around me and knew that it was something that was possible for me.

I know that your work focuses a lot on Black girlhood, Black women and that you sometimes depict your children in your art. Why are you drawn to these themes?

Honestly, it’s because that’s who I’m around 24 hours a day. I had my oldest daughter when I was 22…and so [my children] became a huge component of my life. I was at home with them. Every day, I homeschooled them. We are together 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first 14 years of their life until they go away to public high school.

And so, I just started painting what I knew…that’s just sort of how it evolved. I am a black woman living in the United States in 2023…I know my story intimately. I know my children’s story intimately, and so I have a connection to those things, because those things are my life.

How has living in the South, and it can be specific to Mississippi, impacted your artistry?

When we came to Mississippi, it was like all the things that we knew existed were concentrated here. And we were just like, what is this? [laughs] What is this place? But within all of the discomfort and the madness, we’ve met people who were beautiful, wonderful, intelligent, artistic, creative, loving…who accepted us, without question.

And so, balancing those things, of being in this place of extreme discomfort, and being in this place of extreme love, have been really interesting. And difficult. And so that influences my work…I want to share the humaneness of us without screaming, I’m a human...I feel like my work is bold, but I feel like it has a sense of quiet that comes with just existing.

And that’s a big part of who I am. And who I’ve [grown] into since moving to Mississippi…I don’t need to shout and protest and explain and all that, like, this is how I’m existing…this is how my kids are existing, this is how they’re living, and you can take it or leave it but it just is.

What legacy do you hope to leave for emerging Black artists?

I always want people to know that they can do whatever they want. And that’s the thing that I think artists lose along the way…you do something and people love it. And people want to see more of it and you feel like that’s the only thing people want to see and you get stuck in this sort of cycle of doing the same thing over and over again…and then you lose the part of you that is creative, and that is heartfelt…What you feel and think and want to create one year may be vastly different from what you feel and think and want to create the next year.

And I think young artists need to know that. Do what you want. There’s going to be critics, there’s going to be galleries that are gonna be like nah. There’s going to be competitions that you’re not going to be chosen for and that’s all a part of it. But you just have to do what you want or you’re not going to feel good. You’re not going to feel healthy. You’re not going to love your work…because you’re going to be doing something for other people, instead of what you want to do for yourself.

Card of the Month: It’s time to shed your cocoon, beloved

Earlier this week, our Black Joy editor, Minda Honey did our “look ahead” tarot card pull for the month of March from the Dust II Onyx deck. I was completely unsurprised when Minda pulled the Death card, but I do have some thoughts about it being reversed.

The Death card is typically about shedding old skin. It is a sort of reemergence from a cocoon, hopefully into a better and more courageous version of yourself.

Now, some tarot readers are completely against (or indifferent to) card reversal interpretations. For me, I interpret cards the same whether upright or reversed initially, but I do think when it’s reversed there’s an added layer.

Read the full interpretation on our website.

That’s all for now. Have a safe weekend and keep spreading the Black joy!

Danielle Buckingham

Danielle Buckingham

Danielle Buckingham (she/her), affectionately known as Dani Bee, is Reckon’s Black Joy Reporter, and a Chicago-born, Mississippi-raised writer based in Oxford, Mississippi. A 2021 Lambda Literary fellow, her work has been published in MadameNoire, Midnight & Indigo Literary Magazine, Raising Mothers, and elsewhere.

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