Anitra Frazier is a Chicago, Illinois based artist specializing in realistic acrylic portraits. She brings a warm expression and nostalgic appeal to all of her subjects. Her artwork is in many collections and she has had numerous exhibitions in such venues as the Koehnline Art Museum, Illinois. Her art was featured in a documentary and has been shown on the Artsy Shark website and the Art Business Institute, among other publications. The award-winning artist earned a B.A., Interdisciplinary Studies, Governors State University and a Certification, Photographic Studies, Prairie State College.
It is an honor to present this extraordinary artist’s story in The Healing Power of ART & ARTISTS important ongoing series of Artists Stories about their experiences with art and healing. In this article Anitra Frazier explains her growth as an artist and her strength to persevere in spite of emotional challenges. Please also visit her website at anitrafrazierart.com ~ Renée Phillips
“I hope that by sharing my story, it will encourage others
to share theirs as well, or elicit conversation.” ~ Anitra Frazier
Anita Frazier’s Story
My downward spiral into depression began in college. Being away from home and unable to make friends made my situation worse. My college art career was put on hold as I was hospitalized. Throughout the next nine years, I managed to go back to school and finish. Art class was always a saving grace amidst all of the other required academic courses.
Years later, I discovered Instagram, setup an account, and it reignited my desire to draw and paint again. I didn’t realize how social media had such a large art community. I corresponded with an artist in Mexico through Instagram, who’s art really inspired me, and that was the beginning of my painting journey.
I started to practice drawing faces every day. This occupied my mind, made me focus, and feel a sense of accomplishment after I was done. I wasn’t very good at it in the beginning, but I persisted.
My next intention was to capture emotions with each painting. I wanted each face to express something different. I gained the confidence to accept commissioned portraits. I didn’t realize how anxiety inducing this would be. Making art for others is a job. For the first time it registered that art is indeed a business.
Nevertheless, I felt compelled to take it further and venture into juried art exhibitions. I knew that I was setting myself up for a lot of rejection, which I struggle with, but I wanted to try. And yes, I received many rejection emails. Every rejection felt like a punch to the gut. But fate was kind, and I did begin to get into shows. Instagram paid off again, as a New York independent director saw my painting of Nina Simone and wanted to include it in his documentary. That was my first time exhibiting in New York City.
Little by little, I began to break through the strongholds of my anxiety. It has held me back my whole life, but through art, I am able to step out of my shell.
Around this time, I decided to take the ultimate leap and to enter art fairs. I googled as many articles as I could about how to set up, design, and sell your art at art fairs. I prepared months in advance, and the night before, I was so nervous, I could barely sleep. It requires a lot of energy, stamina, help from others, and Tylenol. But it’s worth it. Little by little, I began to break through the strongholds of my anxiety. It has held me back my whole life, but through art, I am able to step out of my shell.
My most recent series is titled “Long Ago and Far Away”. They are based off of photos that my father took. I started by looking through old family albums and picked out photos that evoked the sentiment of the times… My hope is that others can relate in some way to the message in the images.
Mental health seems to be a topic that is often avoided and swept under the carpet in the African American community, so whenever I get the opportunity to speak on it, I do.
I want to end on this note because this is very important to me. Mental health seems to be a topic that is often avoided and swept under the carpet in the African American community, so whenever I get the opportunity to speak on it, I do. I have exhibited my artwork in shows that honor Mental Health Awareness, shared my story with groups, and donate to mental health programs whenever I can. I hope that by sharing my story, it will encourage others to share theirs as well, or elicit conversation.
Visit Anitra Frazier’s website at www.anitrafrazierart.com