My name is Queen Hibbler. I just turned 25 this year. Graduated from Western Illinois University in Fall 2016 with a BA in Graphic Design with an emphasis in printmaking (screenprinting specifically). Currently I am a graphic designer at a print shop called ColorBurst Screenprinting. Which is a division of the nonprofit organization, Little Friends Inc. They are an agency that provides services for children through adults with developmental disabilities like autism. And we hire some of our folks at the agency as support staff in the print shop. All the money we generate goes back to funding the programs of Little Friends. I’ve been employed there almost 3 years (on Valentine’s Day).
Why do you create and how does it help you?
I’ve been creating for as long as I can remember. My uncle (my dad’s brother) is also an artist. He painted this beautiful waterfall for my parents wedding gift and it used to hang over my bed when I was younger. Seeing his signature made me feel like I could do it too! Creating is definitely an outlet for me. It helps me organize my thoughts/ideas and get them all in one place. It’s also extremely relaxing.
In June, you were able to have your first solo exhibition. This exhibition meant a lot to you as it was a lot of work you created while dealing with mental health. Talk us through the work you created for this exhibit and how it was able to help you deal with mental health.
I had my first solo exhibition in June in conjunction with my 25th birthday. (Gemini season, owwww!)It was on display from June 7-30 at Pilsen Outpost. And my birthday is June 4th. It worked out perfectly!
This body of work was extremely important to me as it was a direct reflection of my mental health journey within the year of going to 24 to 25. I had just recently discovered (at the time) that my mom had been diagnosed with cancer and then I just got out of a long term relationship. And there was a plethora of other elements happening that were definitely challenging. I aligned my identity with that and that whole year took a lot of unlearning, crying, and discovery. I felt very lost, depressed and my anxiety was at an all time high.
Creating this body of work helped me realize a lot of things about myself. Regarding my sexual identity and confidence, realizing my worth, being forced to be alone and look inward — that is what i truly needed to begin my journey of reaching higher self. This was essentially apart of my therapy.
Throughout the Summer, you were also able to be in a few additional exhibitions. When people see your artwork for the first time, ultimately what do you want viewers to take away?
During the month of August, I had my work on display at The Shudio in Pilsen. The Shudio is an awesome spot. It’s a vintage clothing store, in addition to selling plants and jewelry. They allowed me the privilege to be the second featured artist. That was an amazing turnout, as well as an amazing experience being able to have my work on display again. When people see my work for the first time, I want them to initially take away the beauty of the human figure – since I primarily work with figurative subject matter – as well as taking away the message of the work at hand. Although most of my work consists of figurative imagery of black people, the subject matter varies depending on the piece.
On top of your creative habits, you’ve also been able to begin teaching painting classes. How has teaching helped you learn and grow as an artist?
I’ve had the pleasure of becoming an instructor at VIP Paints in Pilsen. Which is a BYOB paint & sip facility. Teaching feels like second nature. I used to be a studio assistant in undergrad for the level 1 screenprinting class. And sometimes I would assist with teaching the class. It just feels natural. I love being able to discuss with a student how proud they are of themselves for finishing a piece of work, or having them tell me they felt reassured after I helped them with something. It feels great to be apart of something like that. I contributed to helping them feel proud of their artwork. It’s also very humbling. Definitely helps me practice patience with my own work.
I saw that you eventually want to open a creative healing space for creatives of color. Can you share more details on that?
Ideally, I would like to have the creative healing space by the time I’m 30. I want to provide a safe space for artists of color and provide opportunities for them to display their work. I want to be able to provide residencies for a couple artists at a time who need a facility to create work. In addition to that, I would like to provide healing services such as yoga, deep breathing meditations, a crystal shop, tarot/natal chart readings and one on one counseling. Thus far, a friend and I made a thread on twitter to gather some info from different black gals to create a database. That way I can also assist other creatives with connecting with each other, in conjunction to hiring folks to provide certain services. I want to also be able to hire folks that have criminal records because I understand it’s difficult to find employment if you have a record. The space would also kind of be like a co op. I would like to provide housing in addition studio space. Then in exchange for living expenses, the artist can also work in the shop, teach a course and the like.
As you look back on this year, what has been your favorite memory?
Honestly, it would have to be my first solo show opening. I have never felt that much love in a room before. It was crazy seeing all those people coming to show up and show out.
What was one major goal you wanted to accomplish this year that you were able to?
My biggest goal was to have my first solo exhibition and I made it happen. Very proud of myself for it.
Written by: Nico Rud