Vessna Scheff was born in Redwood City, CA and spent her developmental years throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The diverse landscape of the Bay culturally, politically and geologically, laid the foundation for Scheff’s sensitivity to equity. Encouraged by her passion to perform, Scheff began working in watercolor through the process of making show flyers, leading to a Visual & Performing Arts teaching position at Gateway Middle School in San Francisco where she explored portraiture alongside her students. Falling in love with the complex dynamic of watercolors, she began to conceptualize and reclaim an often described as “difficult/ sketch” medium for it’s uncontrollable qualities, and rather conceptualizes the freedom of watercolors as an expression of Black liberation- always being, responding, and adapting despite the confines of oppression. After moving to Philadelphia, Scheff decided to apply, and was accepted to the Rhode Island School of Design where she is merging performance with immersive installations contextualizing society's love for all that Black womxn create while disregarding ongoingsupport of Black living and more broadly, how diasporic identities hold, create and share embodied histories. Through poetic paintings, portraits, performances, sounds, and installations that use watercolors, movement, vocals, and projections as mediums of inquiry, Scheff’s works dance with time and fall to gravity. They blend, bleed, and bloom; they stretch, they resist, they flood, and they drip- potent in texture, heavy in meaning, and rich in nuance. She will graduate with an MFA in Painting from RISD in June 2022.
What does black joy look like to you?
Feeling ease in my movements and my thoughts- relaxed throughout my body. Afro blowing every direction in the wind and loving there’s no controlling it. Unapologetically taking up space- letting myself be big, expressive, and expansive.
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