interview: visual artist kasmir jones pays homage to black icons with mixed-media collages

April 13, 2017

By Aliyah Blackmore, AFROPUNK contributor

Kasmir Jones, also known as POETIC, is a self-taught multi-media artist and entrepreneur who is constantly blossoming through her many creative endeavors. Her collage series “The Aftermath” “re-arrang[es]” color, shape, memory, text, and objects, re-creating a number of radiant ground-shaking artists and activists, such as Sun Ra, Audre Lorde, Huey Newton, Grace Jones, among others. Through her art making, she remains committed to archiving, creating space and reflecting on the beautiful multidimensionality of our stories and experiences.

Get in to Kasmir’s collage series and check out our interview below!

Who is Kasmir Jones – if you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be? How would you say your identity has helped you to evolve as an artist/creative mind in the present?

idiosyncratic, bold, constant-blossom
I would have to say, I can’t say that I know myself fully—I am continually getting to know myself daily. I find new things about myself everyday and I am also constantly growing. I am never who I was the day before. I believe there’s no rush in trying to figure things out; like life, nature, or yourself. Miles Davis said “Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself”, that statement is applied to him as a musician, but, I feel the same regarding getting to know who you truly are and finding what your passionate about. You have to try a few things to find what sets your soul on fire and you have to go through many experiences, unlearn and learn, and die many deaths to know yourself. But, being an artist is liberating. I have my hand in many things and I can’t wait for the world to see.

‘Sun Ra’

You were born in New Jersey, and are currently based in North Carolina. Has your upbringing//locations inspired your artistic endeavors in any way? How has existing between these spaces influenced you work – particularly as a visual artist?

I was born in New Jersey, and moved to Delaware when I was like 4 or 5 and was basically raised there. Didn’t leave Delaware until I was 17. I was on outcast growing up. I honestly never ever fit in, no matter how hard I tried, it never worked. After a while, I just gave up (haha). I figured being myself is better than trying to be somebody else. And I never really felt comfortable trying to be someone I was not. Hmmm, I guess you could say my upbringing did inspire my artistic endeavors in a way. I was a very reserved and quiet child growing up. I think me being an artist, was that outlet to put my thoughts and what I felt into my art. My art was my escape. That is what I felt free in. Til’ this day I still feel the same. Without art, I am not free.

‘Audre Lorde’

When did you begin to imagine and construct these very intricate and multi-dimensional collage pieces and what inspired you to create them? As a Black artist yourself, what has been the importance (for you and even for others) of reimagining other Black artists and activists through these collage pieces?

I started collaging about early last year. I have a thing of making something out of nothing and recreated images and things in my head and seeing things differently. I think it’s beautiful, when you can take something, not deliberately copy, but to take something and totally reconstruct it and redefining it and re-polishing it into how you see it to be and what it means to you and I think it’s beautiful. That’s what makes the world beautiful. It’s almost sort of, when two people fall out of love, and one lover falls in love with someone new and they bring out a side of the other person that has never been birthed or pulled out of. What I’m saying is, when you are able to take a work of art, or piece of music, or whatever it may be and totally rearrange it beautifully, I think it is amazing. When people can take something and turn it into something else and have people see it differently or look at it from another perspective. I think it’s important to be open and to have an open mind from a smorgasbord of different works of art or perspectives because it is liberating and inspiring and can help you grow. Anything can spark a new idea, a new theory, a new movement.


Who/what serves as an inspiration to you in your work?

Interlude 5 on Lauryn Hill’s Unplugged 2.0 album. There’s one thing she says in that interlude that is forever looping in my head and heart “The real you, is better than the fake somebody else.” That album continuously heals me. The truth is the inspiration for my work. Transparency, openness, authenticity, experiences—Life, itself serves as inspiration. My faith inspires me. Love inspires me. Other great artists inspire me.

‘Grace Jonez’

What would you like the public to experience when they view your work?

I want the public to experience just that—an experience. I want my work to be an experience within itself. I want people to feel something when they look at my work. Something that moves them, something they can relate to or take a new perspective on how they may view certain situations or just, life itself. I want people to feel, to be moved. Whether it’s a good or a not so good feeling, or a triggering feeling, at least they felt something than nothing at all.

‘Coltrane Forms’

What does it mean to engage with and be in conversation with the arts, as a Black body? What feeling does this foster for you?

Being an artist, a Black artist, especially in these times. I think it is my prerogative, my job to create from a place of authenticity and representing my people in a unique and special light. Just from what my people went through, the hardship, times of adversity, we are just resilient people. Not just displaying my people in a resilient way, but also the struggle. It means so much. I have a voice; I want my language to touch the souls of people. My art will do that.

‘Original Tastemakers’

What can we expect from you in future? I have been following your work on an endeavor/project “The Culture Shift Mag,” can you tell us a little bit more about that project?

I created The Culture Shift specifically to be dedicated to the arts, culture, politics and aesthetics for people of color. While paying homage to the then and now underground scenes. I want people of color to be celebrated in this space. I want people to know that there is power in the community. We are better together, than against each other. From us creatives to the OG’s to our ancestors, the power has always been within us. God is in us, he created us in his image. Therefore, we can be and do whatever we put our minds too. So no, this isn’t just a magazine, publication, but this is an organization, a movement, a revolution. We promote togetherness in community, self-love, self-awareness, entrepreneurship, collaboration, wealth, love, and creative freedom. This is a platform for all the trailblazing artists, creatives, and people of color who are shifting, building, inventing, innovating, empowering, creating and producing compelling content through different mediums. And honestly, man, you can expect a lot from me in the future. I have my hand in almost every thing. It can get overwhelming, yet I love what I do and you can’t complain about a load you prayed for. I’ve recently, even stopped putting out new work because I feel and felt like something was and is missing and I am digging deeper within myself, to create, to produce compelling work and content. The goal is to put myself in the best position and bring my people with me.

I believe I’m very gifted and I want to impact lives with compelling art/work. Believe me when I’m telling you, I’m working on the, timeless. My goal or mission is not popularity, it is simply me changing the hearts of man and changing the world and fulfilling my purpose.

Kasmir’s prints can be purchased at Tictail 

*Aliyah is based in Harlem and can be found on Instagram and Soundcloud

Follow Kasmir Jones: Instagram