Art

FEATURE: Honesty Through Art – Brooklyn Painter Genesis Tramaine

June 26, 2015

She held out her hand for a respectful embrace and was taken aback by the response she received. Fulfilling her duties as an educator, Ms. Fredericks opened up her classroom to the parents of the elementary school students in which she taught mathematics and art with a humble spirit. In an effort to not offend but to seek further understanding, Ms. Fredericks inquired as to why this beautiful Muslim woman dressed head to toe in her religious garb – who happened to be the parent of a student who regarded her as his favorite teacher – would not shake her hand. “No I’m sorry I can’t shake your hand. You’re a man”, explained the mother. Naturally, Ms. Fredericks retorted, “Darling I’m just as woman as you are; every time, on time.” Ms. Fredericks, or Genesis as she was known outside of the classroom, was not offended. She was not hurt, nor did she feel disrespected. She observed and she learned. Some could say experiences such as this one act as inspiration to artists like Gen when it comes to letting it all hang out on the canvas. Walking in her truth, whether it’s in her art or her everyday life Genesis possesses the certain honesty and awareness that she feels may be lacking from art today. 

By Brionna R. Jenkins, AFROPUNK Contributor 

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Genesis Tramaine had a rich childhood growing up in Brooklyn. She was well behaved, loved playing basketball with the boys and unlike the Caesar haircut she rocks today, had long hair that complemented her brown skin. It was her upbringing as a child that acted as a strong foundation to what and who she is as a mature woman. Her experiences as a young Brooklyn girl were the canvas to the colorful yet complex life she would unknowingly lead. Gen knew how to carry herself which in turn carried her to people, places and things that many her age hadn’t experience, thus opening her up to a world beyond the one that was familiar to her.

Crediting her understanding of the world to her foundation in the Christian church, it may cross some as ironic that she holds such a strong spiritual relationship with the God she praises. Religious groups often repel those they regard as something other than normal and often misunderstand them – the sexually fluid. However, this humble artist knows she has choices within her prayer just as any other Christian and her choice just so happens to be a relationship with God which she finds completely separate from her sexuality. Maintaining all parts of her identity Gen’s art speaks to the life she lives in the most genuine fashion, never shying away.

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Though while in grade school the future artist despised math she became a math teacher to fulfill the need in her community at that time. She also had the opportunity to be an art teacher but disliked it for the same reason she disliked learning many subjects in school – the rules, saying, “I do what I want; I’m a self-taught self-made artist. I don’t really obey too many rules.” She’d rather let the kids take paintbrushes and splatter on a canvas as opposed to teaching them how to glue things together. That was if they even had canvases. As a teacher in an underprivileged neighborhood she was put in situations that no teacher or student should have to undergo in an educational facility. To the point where some of the classroom supplies came from her home studio because the lack of materials was so great. This experience as a whole manifested into Sacrificial Lambs, one of her earlier art exhibitions. To her the children in District 75 deserved all that the “white man’s” child receives upon entering an art class however realistically that’s not the case making her innocent students sacrificial lambs. 

 

As not only an artist, but a person in today’s society the ability to be unapologetically seems to fade as the desire to live up to standards rises. For Gen this calamitous fad is not a problem. No matter how controversial who she is may be to the outside world, the fact that she owns her truth and openly expresses it makes her a special soul. She possesses qualities such as openness, wisdom and courage that manifest in every brushstrokes she makes.  

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On a daily basis Gen has inevitable obstacles placed before her: she’s a Black female, she is an artist in a big city, and she is a proud member of the LGBTQ community. Like a true artist she allows these encounters to play out in her art however she sees fit.


On a bright, steaming-hot early summer day in Union Square Park, wearing jeans stylishly splattered with paint, the visionary opened up all the while doing a live painting in front of the biggest audience she’s ever had. That act in itself shows the courage, spirit and nature embodied by this grounded and spiritual being. Layering each brushstroke on her canvas to display the face of the famed women’s activist, Sojourner Truth, Gen’s artwork is much more than what is seen on the surface. In fact, it is in that way a metaphor for her life.

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When a painter paints, they start with a blank canvas made of the material of their choice. They then proceed to apply their first layer of paint and continue to layer until their image gains more depth and clarity. This piece of art may symbolize one concept or a collection of many. It may serve a great purpose or it may be solely for eye candy. When the piece is hung up on the wall the artist must then allow onlookers to perceive what they may from the piece openly, respectfully accepting how it is perceived. This is exactly what Genesis does. Using inspiration from her life and world around her she recognizes herself as an ever evolving, ever growing individual who is who she is.

 

The question was posed to her what makes her art different and she responded thoughtfully,  “To be queer is to be willing to be bold and willing to be seen.” Genesis Tramaine’s art is bold and honest because she is just that. Her work is the reflection of the spiritually rich being who creates it.

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https://www.facebook.com/pages/Genesis-TRAMAINE

http://www.genesistramaine.com/ 

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* A Queens’ native and recent St. John’s University grad, Bri Renee is the gift of a vibrant personality wrapped in a stylish box. With a degree in Journalism her passion is to inform her peers in the most entertaining and creative way possible. Bri has held several internships in the industry at your favorite daytime talk shows and radio stations and continues to build her craft every day. A yoga lover and vegetarian Bri is an advocate for healthy living and maintaining not only mental but physical well-being.

Social Media: @TheBrionnaRenee

Website: TheBrionnaRenee.com

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