Diamonika Dunson's New Muse

"I come from a family that does the impossible.”

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An artist is someone who can’t sit still because there is, inside of them, always a need to create something. Although there may be one specific form that sits close to home, the artist will discover new ways to produce. The intention isn’t to always just make music; or just paint pictures. Rather, it is about bringing something new into the world, regardless of the vessel used.

Diamonika Dunson, 25, of Akron, Ohio, is a perfect example of an authentic creative. Her first ship was a string instrument: the violin. Dunson was 6 years old when she first start playing, finding solace in it; comfort.

“Visual art took a back seat to music because it was a passion of mine. I've been doodling ever since I can remember, but art isn't my first love.”

She sailed for 11 years, the relationship with her violin evolving into a marriage of one. They became familiar with each other, they grew old together. She started to notice the movement in her fingers slow down. By the time Dunson was 17 years old, she could no longer deal with the physical pain she’d experience while playing.

“So I made the conscious decision to let it go.”

But that’s just the thing with an artist: they can never truly let it go. She said, “Not completely though, I still take it out every now and then.”

It was during that pivotal moment in Dunson’s life that she realized she had just experienced her first break up. A heartache that was inevitably happening – without her control, without her permission. When the phase was over, it was over. But the ending of the string instrument allowed for something else to be born. 

“Art became my new love.”

She was confronted with new doubts, too – after all, she was starting a new venture. She admits, at first, to feeling foreign in the realm of creating digital art. But she also admits to picking herself up when she felt dejected. Which is inspiring.

“I spent months looking into what the costs would be. I doubted I would be able to paint something as beautiful as what I’ve seen. But, still, when I turned 18, I bought my first tablet. At first, I just tinkered with whatever program I had. The first painting I completed, mysteriously got deleted (cough, cough). A little bit of myself died along with it. But I have a great amount of stubbornness and pride; I wasn’t going to go down like that.

“A month later, I tried again. This time it was a Michael Jackson fan art. I began to see the potential in what I could do.”

Dunson’s creative space is fluid in the way she has decided to move. For her, it’s very simple: cut off all outside distractions, be in peace and clarity while music is playing in the background. In her practice, she found her pace, learning that she needs to work in sessions to give her wrists a break. On a perfect day, she’d make a sandwich or play a game as a reward.

“Those are the little moments I live for. I'm inspired by just about anything.”

Even greed, for example. This image (below) caught my attention because the detail is intricate. She looks like a queen and I found myself curious about the different tones of skin. Who is she and why is she relevant?

“This was a challenge I gave myself. This is my version of Greed from The Seven Deadly Sins. The initial thought of her was that she is obsessed with gold and that she didn’t feel beautiful without it painted on her skin. I compare that to women of any color who don’t find beauty in their own skin. They want to achieve a completely different look than what God gave them. My hope is that it will help a little girl out there who feels that way and maybe change her outlook on self-identity.”

She regards herself as an old soul, admitting that she feels like a 63-year-old trapped in a 25-year-old body. “It’s what I truly feel. I see things differently than most who are my age. We don’t have enough raw, pure energy and emotion. I want to spread love, hope and peace with my art and words.”

She has arrived at a point in which she takes life in long strides, one day at a time, no longer worrying about whether someone likes or dislikes her work.

“I just hope to be happy and make myself proud.”

She credits her tenacity to a resilient family. “Both of my parents have been leading examples for me. They’d work from dawn until dusk. They made mistakes, but they also learned. And my sister is a military mom of my two nephews. I come from a family that does the impossible.” 

Bianca Salvant2 Comments