Toya Beacham is a multi-disciplinary artist and writer who was born in Nuremberg, Germany. Far from her family’s North Florida origins, her most formative and memorable years were spent in the suburbs of Washington DC with her parents and two younger brothers. Primarily self-taught, Toya was always the “doodler” in grade school and thrived in her public school art classes, but didn't understand the transformative power of creativity until much later in life. 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 she made the switch to education, and began teaching grades K-8. It is through these hundreds of loving interactions with children that her spark for creativity was reignited. Toya credits the classroom and her incredible students for reanimating her curious and imaginative inner-child.
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, living and working out of Atlanta, GA.
"My oil and acrylic portraiture represents 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, in our very skin, is an act of powerful and direct socio-political resistance.
Earth tones and soft pastels envelope many of the people 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” colors (i.e. pink for girls and blue for boys). My blending and/or muting of these colors with their complementary colors represents both a disinclination to accept these rigid concepts and a refusal to deny their existence.
One of the most important aspects of my work are the relaxed and recumbent poses held by the people portrayed. More often than not, depictions of Blackness include the contorted and pained faces of the sobbing and harmed, limbs contorted and restrained, flesh bruised and bloodied, and hardened expressions. My paintings of everyday, majestic black people calmly, happily and plainly existing resists this insidious erasure of our humanity."