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Artist's Bio

Toya Beacham is a multi-disciplinary artist, illustrator, graphic designer, and writer who was born in Nuremberg, Germany. Far from her family’s Florida origins, her most formative and memorable adolescent years were spent in the suburbs of Washington DC with her parents and two younger brothers. After graduating from Oxon Hill High School in 2003, she attended the University of Florida where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology in 2007 and promptly began a career in social work. In 2011 Toya pivoted into education and began teaching grades K-8.  It is through these hundreds of loving interactions and constant exposure to the wonderous, natural curiosity of children that her spark for creativity was reignited. Toya credits the creative demands of life in the classroom and her courageously inquiring students for reanimating her curious and imaginative inner child and artist.


Toya’s inspiration is gifted by the audaciousness and strength depicted in the works of Toni Morrison and Faith Ringgold.  These foremothers’ feirce reclamation of Black feminist empowerment are major themes in Toya’s oil and acrylic portraiture. Toya seeks to upend Eurocentric beauty standards with images that "showcase just how beautiful Blackness has always been."  


 Toya is currently a full-time artist and digital nomad with home bases in Chicago, Atlanta, and Prince George's County, MD.


"Working primarily in oils, watercolor, gouche, and digital mediums, I maintain a heavy concentration in portraiture and figuration. Much of my work seeks to chronicle my own lived experiences growing up, as a queer youth, reared by southern Black matriarchs in the United States. Within my acrylic portraiture, I explore the resistance of white cis hetero patriarchy by highlighting the physical forms of Black marginalized genders (MaGes). My intention is to provide visibility to all genders within, and especially, beyond the binary.  My most recent works zero in on the ways in which the foundational strength and robust softness of femininity emerge as a dynamic oppositional force against the erasure of trans, queer, fat, and disabled bodies. The message that my work delivers to fellow Black MaGes is clear-- that the mere act of waking up and daring to exist in this world, exactly as we are, in our very skin, is an act of significant and direct socio-political resistance.


Earthy tones or soft flowery pastels envelope many of the people within in my paintings to represent diasporic Africans’ inherent ties to Mother Earth in all Her seasons. Pastels and foliage lend themselves to their close association with femininity as well as our societal tendency to “genderize” color (i.e. pink for girls and blue for boys). By blending and/or muting these colors with their complementary colors I display a disinclination to accept these rigid concepts coupled with an intentional acknowledgment of their existence.


One of the most important aspect of my work is the relaxed and recumbent posing. More often than not, depictions of Blackness include the contorted and pained faces of the distressed and harmed-- limbs contorted and restrained, flesh bruised and bloodied, and hardened expressions. My paintings of every day, majestic black people calmly, happily, and plainly existing resists this insidious erasure of our humanity, which includes ubridaled joy and rest."

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