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UNT student uses art to spread awareness about social issues, mental health

UNT student uses art to spread awareness about social issues, mental health

UNT student uses art to spread awareness about social issues, mental health
April 22
11:00 2021

Working two jobs while attending classes to graduate this semester can be a heavy workload, but that does not stop integrative studies senior Kamille Newton from setting aside time to create art.

Newton is studying psychology, rehabilitation and media arts, which she plans to use to go into art therapy.

“I’m really motivated to help people with mental health through creativity and through art,” Newton said. “I realized that every time that I was going through a lot I would paint or draw, and then, I’d feel a lot better. Sometimes I wouldn’t know what I was feeling and then I would draw and then I would look at the picture and think, ‘That’s where your anxiety is coming from.’”

Newton said art is helpful to young people who do not know how to explain their trauma, so she wants to facilitate that throughout the Denton community. She plans to work to make art therapy more accessible and do international programs where she will be able to lead it worldwide.

Her work targets Generation Z, millennials, young revolutionaries, queer people, people of color and anyone else who appreciates art. 

“A lot of my art has to do with Black femininity, queerness, sexuality and definitely gender and race,” Newton said. “I’ve been making a lot more political art for different revolutionary organizations, and I want that to touch on the end of white colonialism and supremacy.”

She said prejudice and microaggressions are hidden everywhere, affecting multiple communities. 

“I feel like Denton has this idea that it’s super open-minded, but I think that allyship is definitely performative out here,” Newton said. “It’s not as open-minded for BIPOC and all people of color, and so it’s just kind of confusing for my brain and I just had to make art about it. I think that once I start to make art like that, it was my niche.”

Newton said she would make art about her experiences as a Black woman, but once she started adding political issues into her work like ending white supremacy, she came to the realization that she is not in spaces that are as accommodating and ally-oriented as she originally believed.

Jade Price, who is pursuing an art career in New York, has known Newton since middle school and said Newton is inspiring and conveys important messages in her work.

“[Newton]’s artwork is a masterful expression of what it means to be a radical Black and queer femme,” Price said. “Every time I see [Newton]’s work, I see absolute passion and pride in what it means to be Black and gay. Her artwork resonates with intersectionality. I have always admired Kamille’s ability to assign purpose to pen. She truly carves her heart into each and every brush stroke.”

Newton has been creating since she was a child, and her mother would tell her stories about how she would always have a coloring book and crayons in hand.

She is now participating in competitions and attending art pop-ups to sell her work and gain recognition for her art pieces and messages.

Studio art senior Miles Travis was a first-time customer of Newton’s work at a pop-up she participated in last month.

“I had the chance to meet [Newton] at the Outdoor Art Market,” Travis said. “After talking with her about art, life and our studio classes, I had to grab some of her prints. [Newton]’s art is a figurative celebration of positivity and optimism, and I found the vibrant exploration of identity in her work incredibly inspiring.”

During the process of creating her art pieces, she said sometimes she is not sure of what she is making until it is finished, so she does not realize the full message being conveyed until the end of the process.

Newton’s pieces have similar messages pertaining to mental health and Black women, and every piece she has made has a cohesive underlying theme.

“The messages found in [Newton]’s art include body positivity, self-empowerment and mental health awareness,” Travis said. “Today, I feel like many people face feelings of doubt, anxiety and insecurity in their life, and the messages that Kamille sends with her work is impactful and necessary in the world we live in today.”

Newton said the human mind is your weapon, and her weapon is art.

“I want all my art, when you look at it, to say, ‘I defy whatever social standards that are trying to confine you and your mind,’” Newton said.

Those interested in Newton’s art can view her work on her Instagram accounts, @kamilleafrodite and @queenafrodite.

Featured Image: Integrative studies senior Kamille Newton standing next to her painting “End of an Era” on April 10, 2021. Image by Gurleen Kaur

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Katarina Diaz

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