Vans isn’t just skating through Women’s History Month with performative actions — the brand is providing resources to women-identifying creators.
This month, instead of spending its allocated budget on traditional ads, Vans dedicated those resources to creatives — including mixed-media artist Rewina Beshue and ceramicist Lalese Stamp — to actually create inspiring works for a digital museum. The online exhibit showcases drawings, sculptures, music videos, custom shoes, digital animations, and more.
“I’m drawn to projects that uplift and shine a light on topics that are important to Black women taking up space in the art world,” said Beshue. “I love using my art and my platform to promote representation and inclusivity. Growing up, there wasn’t much Black representation in the art world, or at least I wasn’t exposed to it. It was hard to find. It’s really important that we use our platforms to promote representation of creative women in the mainstream world.”
“I’ve always worn Vans,” added Stamps. “It’s such a universal brand. I value their representation and diversified viewpoints so when they reached out about the project it was a no-brainer.”
AfroTech caught up with Beshue and Stamps to talk about the Vans museum, challenges for Black women in the art world, and how they use technology in their art.
Editorial Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
AfroTech: When did you first decide you wanted to be an artist?
Rewina Beshue: Art has always been present in my life, so I feel like my creativity has evolved throughout the years. It started off as something I would do by myself, then one year, I was invited to be part of an all-girl art show. That experience opened my eyes and changed the way I look at art. I was introduced to a whole community of people that I could creatively connect and share my art with. From there, I was featured in more art shows and projects in my community. That was when I actually started to feel like an artist.
Lalese Stamps: I’ve always been creative. I was a typical child, exploring coloring books and making fake money, but I didn’t start using clay until my late 20s.
AfroTech: How long was your process in creating this piece of art for this campaign, and can you explain the meaning of your piece?
Rewina Beshue: This piece took me about a month to complete. I love creating large-scale pieces, but it doesn’t happen often because it can be overwhelming to paint on large surfaces. I find myself hyperactively thinking about the endless ideas I have running through my head. This piece is a combination of all my ideas on one canvas. I start by making a ton of drawings in my sketchbook. If I’m drawn to one of the sketches, I start imagining what it will look like on the canvas and how I can build around that one piece. But it always ends up very random at the end of the painting, which I love. It’s a combination of my thoughts, experiences, and interests. It’s basically a look into my mind and my thoughts.
Lalese Stamps: Lots of sketching for sure. I try not to skip that process because I can really explore the many ideas floating in my head before executing, too. I actually ended up making a few different variations before landing on the one I made for Vans. Clay is not very forgiving, so I try to be patient and give myself grace.
AfroTech: What are some challenges you face as a Black woman in the art world, and how do you overcome them?
Rewina Beshue: The biggest challenge has been feeling like I don’t fit in the art world. I always felt like there wasn’t any space for me or Black women in general. This feeling stemmed from a mix of the lack of Black women being represented and myself feeling like I am not a good enough artist. But I try my best to not pay attention to the mainstream art world or what others are doing, and focusing my energy on my work and making art for myself and my friends.
Lalese Stamps: It’s hard not seeing a lot of Black women ceramicists who came before me, but I do love Simone Leigh and Magdalene Odundo. There are also a lot of wonderful Black ceramicists amongst us now who are paving their own way. It’s a treat to be amongst them all.
AfroTech: Technology is transforming the art world with VR, AI, new design software, and so much more. What role does technology play in how you create and share your artwork?
Rewina Beshue: I like to utilize technology in an experimental way. Technology and software have allowed me to explore and expand my creativity. I like to use different mediums to create art. Draw, paint, cut, scan, manipulate the colors and shapes on my Adobe programs. It has allowed me to get as experimental as I possibly can.
Lalese Stamps: I come from a graphic design background so I’m still very immersed in the tech world. I was just editing code the other day. In my day-to-day though, I definitely rely on digital calendars and to-do list apps like Notion. As an entrepreneur, there is always something to get done so I heavily rely on tech in that way.
AfroTech: Due to the pandemic, how has the last year affected your creativity and business?
Rewina Beshue: Motivation has been difficult during the pandemic. At the beginning of the pandemic, I assumed that I would have more time to create since we were in lockdown, but it was the complete opposite. My creative drive sunk, and I didn’t have the energy to do what I love doing. I got myself to turn that around slowly by buying myself a sketchbook that I take with me everywhere. I remind myself to doodle in it when I feel bored, stressed, angry, or just have free time. Now I actually create work based on the random doodles in that book. That has helped me stay motivated creatively.
AfroTech: In celebration of WHM, what women artists inspire you today?
Rewina Beshue: I’m super inspired by a lot of artists. Too many to name them all. One of my favorite artists today is Theresa Chromati. I love her use of colors and texture. I’m very drawn to the movement of her work. It keeps my eyes wondering throughout the whole painting. Very amazing work!
Lalese Stamps: Jade Purple Brown, Sequoyah Johnson, Stephanie Deangelis, Mimi Likey, Annie Russell of Secret Lunch, Solange (duh), and my gals Mia Smith and Reva Kashikar.
AfroTech: How do you want women to feel when they view and/or purchase your artwork?
Rewina Beshue: I want women to feel inspired to create whatever they want to create. I want women to feel like no matter what they create, their work is important and just as valid as artists with large platforms or different skill sets. The beauty of art is that it is subjective. That’s why we have so many different types of creative individuals in the world. Never stop making art. Don’t believe that you are not good enough or your work won’t be taken seriously. Someone out there will connect with you creatively.
Lalese Stamps: Proud and inspired.
AfroTech: Lastly, in what ways can brands and individuals continue to support women artists like yourself?
Rewina Beshue: Representation. Brands should put a lot of effort into finding creative women on the internet. There are so many amazing creatives with small platforms that deserve more recognition. Give women, especially Black women, space and a platform to share their creativity. Let’s make it easy for people to find and connect with creative women.
Lalese Stamps: Continue shouting out individuals’ work, financially supporting and providing resources.