Her work recontextualises the black trans form, within the fine art canon, primarily in 2D medium. Tuitt explores the intersections of race, pop culture, religion and the self.
She uses the collective history of queer representations, and seeks to humanise and deify trans existence.
I was attracted to the strength and power behind the figures in her work.
Quick one, what 3 words would you use to describe your artwork
Black, prismatic & honest
Tell me about your artist story. How were you trained? Tell me about your journey to where you are now?
My 7th grade art teacher, who I am forever grateful for, saw my interest and allowed me to be his teacher's assistant. He really took me under his wing and taught me about creating, allowing me to get extra practice after school and during the summer. From there I TA'd in high school and college, always trying to learn more than the NYC public school system allowed. I then went to Purchase College, (a decision I made approximately 5 weeks before the application deadline) and got my B.F.A in Painting & Drawing. From there I have just been gaining experience from illustration work with different social justice organizations.
What memorable responses have you had to your work? And which artwork would you like people to remember you for?
While I'm hoping the work I’ll be remembered for has yet to be made, the painting I made in collaboration with Benji Hart & Forward Together for Trans Day of Resilience. titled “We Have Never Asked Permission” has been the most widespread, and created the largest impact. We got to see all the places that work showed up and one of them was being hung on a church wall. To go into my full history with the church would take years but that affirmation made me literally weep.
What are you working on now?
I recently made a return to my personal practice, and so I am really refinding and redefining my voice, but I spent the last couple of months seeing visions in my head and now I'm just attempting to transcribe them into paintings. Ultimately I think they’re exploring the collaboration of womanhood and addressing the ways in which trans women and femmes have been aligned with the periphery and erased from that history.
What would be your dream project?
I'm really into the idea of tangible objects right now, that which can be physically held and passed on. So I would love to create some sort of collective diary, a tome composed of portraits ,personal narratives, memories and artifacts dedicated to the existence and life of black trans women. Something akin to a family scrapbook mixed with a textbook that can be accessible and passed down to generations of black trans children. So they can contextualize themselves into a lineage that feels like home.
What is your studio like? Where do you like to create best? What are your artist necessities? What could you not live without?
Messy, so very messy. I used to think my inability to be organized was a serious character flaw but honestly i really thrive in the slight chaos of it. It's covered in preliminary sketches stained with paint fingerprints and an array of rulers to get my angles right. My current studio is a small space in my home but it's directly under a skylight and so it has been really good to/for me. Paint and sunlight are really the only things I need to make good things happen.
What do you listen to while you work?
Pop music is my go to work genre. Currently Rina Sawayama’s album “SAWAYAMA” is being played to death, but Britney Spears’ self titled album has been almost the entirety of my painting playlist since I was 15.
What does an average working day look like to you?
I Always begin with 30 or so minutes of sketching. I really can't paint or draw anything until my hands are “loose”. Since I usually have new ideas for paintings daily, whether they are fully rendered or fragments, I try to get them down into my sketchbook immediately, collect reference images into folders and just get all of the things I've been holding in since my last studio session. If I've already done all my prep/studies for a larger work I then jump right into painting and I'll just continue while taking periodic breaks until the sun goes down. I am fully not a nighttime painter that part of my brain completely shuts off when the sun goes down.
Who or what are your biggest influences, and how do you find them? How do these come out in your work?
Pop Culture and Religion are the two major influences in my work, As a queer child from an very religious household, religion was the default for identity and pop culture became the escape. In my work I'm always trying to negotiate those two entities how they come together or confront one another and then build that into a visual relationship usually between two figures. I'm usually pulling directly on biblical allegories or symbols and combining those narratives with artifacts from my childhood.
What do you want your work to say? What are the main themes and motifs running through your work? Is there a narrative that runs throughout?
I am really trying to get into the nature of relationships typically shown through pairings. How the social systems of being seen and reflection aid or inhibit our ability of self determination. The full breadth of my work acts as an non-linear autobiography as I am usually referencing my own relationships, or greater metaphoric relationships that I participate in.
Tell me about a specific piece of your artwork?
Crying Mary(Familiar) is one of my more recent and favorite works. Mostly because it was the first time I attempted to talk about a relationship that was rooted in friendship and not one sexual or exploitative in nature. I made it right after me and one of my best friends had gotten really high together during which i spent an hour crying and then coaxed her into doing the same and receiving that release. All of my closest friends are women and in that moment while I felt cognizant of the distance of our experience I was reminded of the familiarity of womanhood as a participatory act. The painting formally really tries to negotiate that contradiction, pushing between angularity and curvature, messiness and clarity.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I love to sew! I don't know if that's surprising but I love to sew. I love to knit, love crochet and love a needlepoint. They’re all activities I have been keeping safe from being eaten by my practice and entering my “work”. But every activity a stereotypical grandmother loves I also love.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
A friend of mine once wrote me a note that said “be gentle with yourself”. I have it stuck to my mirror and look at it everyday. I apply it to everything. I'm always trying to give myself opportunities to fail and to grow from those failures with as little judgement as possible.
What advice would you give?
Have fun, please have fun. Honestly as corny as it sounds make your practice as comfortable as you can. Make space for joy, create ease when possible. Make things you long to see, make the things you deem necessary.
If you could have a meal with any artist from any time, what would the meal be and who would it be with?
I am manifesting that this will actually happen in my lifetime but it would be Juliana Huxtable. I think she's vegan but we would have crab legs and fruit salad by the water. I would have the crabs, she the broccoli, potatoes, corn and pumpkin. The fruit would be shared.
What is your greatest indulgence in life other than creating?
I don't know if I can say sex, but sex. If not sex then definitely food, they honestly aren’t that different from one another.
Favourite historical female artist?
Greer Lankton, Belkis Ayon, & Helen Frankenthaler
Favourite current practicing female artists (as many as you like?)?
Juliana Huxtable, Martine Gutierrez, Janiva Ellis, Rebecca Leveille, Lisa Yuskavage & Judith Linhares. I'm so certain there are many more.
Who should She Curates interview next?
Natalia Mendez (nataliamendezart), Michelle Tineo (michellywa), Sophie Gell (soapygel)
Is there anything else you wanted to say?
Thank you! Thank you for seeing me, thank you for having me and thank you for the opportunity.