In the words of Erykah Badu, “I am an artist and I am sensitive to my shit. Those words are true for almost any artist. Each artistic offering is a form of expressive courage. The vulnerable aesthetic found within each artistic offering not only shines through, it tells a beautiful story that potentially heals the mind, body, and soul. For visual artists like Whitney Austin, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Although she was aware of her talent at a young age, it wasn’t until an unexpected loss before she took up a paintbrush again as an adult.
“My grandfather passed away unexpectedly,” he says. “It’s not like we’ve seen it slowly decline. He had a heart attack. ”
After the sudden loss, she was inspired to honor her grandfather with a portrait. Austin notes that many of his closest friends were completely unaware of his artistic gifts because he had not shown any insight into his natural ability in more than 10 years.
Growing up, there were no full-time artists that she could turn to as a mentor, nor did she see any notable African-American artists.
“I always felt like I had to force my gift on a real field,” Austin says. “For example, since you can draw, you don’t think you can be a full-time artist, you think you can be a fashion designer or an architect.
He took a leap of faith after retraining as an artist. At the same time, she understood that it would not be easy, but she was willing to do the necessary work. Though thoughts of doubt would resurface, it would serve as a motivational catalyst for the Ohio native. His return to Charlotte from Miami is where the change he wanted to see would start to be. His first profitable pieces were portraits of black women. Using social media as a means of marketing, Austin would paint “whatever he wanted” and people would buy it.
“I started to take it seriously when I saw the potential that it really depended on me,” he says. “Sometimes we put too much emphasis on the world giving us the ‘OK’ or approval of an idea. No one will give you what you are worth until you know what you are worth for yourself.
Whitney Austin begins to live by her own words. He raised the prices of his work and began to go up in both quality and quantity. Her investment would lead her to quit her day job as a primary caregiver.
“It was scary and still scary to bet so much on yourself, but overall it was a great feeling.”
Her success as a businesswoman and artist only proved that she made the right choice. In 2020, the world witnessed another death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd. While battling a pandemic, the world came to a standstill when Derek Chauvin, a white police officer murdered Floyd by holding his knowledge on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
While processing, suffering and recovering from the tragedy, Whitney Austin used her brush and canvas.
“Their story represents us (as black people). To make it so extreme I had to create a painting with multiple views. “
Austin’s painting tells a story. In the center, we see George Floyd with a crown. On his shoulders, the protesters stand. The bottom represents the civil unrest that sparked the amount of unrest during the summer of 2020. Above Floyd’s George are the countless black men and women who were unjustly murdered. From Travon Martin to Breonna Taylor and more, Austin’s piece serves its purpose of healing the trauma faced by African Africans.
As an entrepreneur, it is important to possess intangible vitamins AE. These are Action, Belief, Trust, Discipline, and Enthusiasm. Whitney Austin unequivocally possesses each of those qualities. Through art she heals with a purpose.