San Antonio artist, Teunice Curtis, was a 15 year-old in high school, when the owner of Blended Designs, a black run company, reached out for her to design a backpack. These backpacks were to showcase Black characters in order to fit the need of representation for Black children.
“I think it’s a great project to get kids of color backpacks in which they can see themselves in. Representation matters, and so many people love them.” Curtis states.
Teunice Curtis is an artist from San Antonio that currently resides in Washington, D.C. where she moved to attend Howard University, a historically Black institution, as an architecture major. She can be found on Instagram where she showcases most of her art. She is also the artist of Elevated Experience (@elevatedexperienceevents) a rooftop sip and paint in Washington, D.C..
The realization that there was a lack of Black characters on backpacks for children is what spurred the work for Blended Designs. Their websites writes that, “that only 2% of all backpacks represent people of color.” Curtis was brought on as an artist where she was charged with representing Blended Designs’ entirely black staff as cartoon characters with the words “I can do anything” written on their shirts.
“It was a way to celebrate people around them, also providing a positive image for other Black students.” She reflects.
Curtis recalls the discrimination she faced as a Black student where she felt she had to quiet down her Blackness to fit into the culture. Other students would attribute all of her accomplishments to her race despite only applying to merit based awards. She wanted to avoid any assumptions that she was getting handouts because she was Black. She later found out that the school administration would purposefully hold meetings to try to limit her opportunities.
“But I got through it. so it’s like no one can stop me from being great.”
I learned to stand firm in what I believe , not try to water down my message, not try to make it palatable for people who don’t understand the struggles.Teunice Curtis
Curtis recalls the lack of representation she had growing up and how her identity has shaped her work. As a result she is dedicated to representing and uplifting Black community through her art on Instagram as it often features the accomplishments of people such as Olympain Sha’Carri Richardson and basketball player/spelling bee champion Zaila Avant-Garde.
Feature photo by @candiconcepts on Instagram
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