After spending 12 years as a freelance graphic designer, Wokeface began making art for herself and displaying it on the streets of Portland. Her paintings are beacons of joy in these dark times with her remarkably simple symbol of a serene looking smiley face with a wide open third eye. "I closed the mouth and the eyes," she says, "because to me wokeness is tapping into the senses that are beyond your five physical senses, like opening up your intuition, your feelings, and your empathy."
Most of her work consists of stickers, wheatpastes, painted wood pieces, and murals. Last year she completed a mural for The Belmont Market, our neighborhood corner store, that makes my family and I smile every time we see it. Indeed, her work is accessible and populist in ways that normalize 'wokeness' for wide swaths of Portland.
Wokeface's 2018 solo show 'Chill Vibes' at Upper Playground consisted of her signature painted wood pieces with a thick gloss coat of epoxy resin. She combines the visual vernacular of millennials with a glossy pop aesthetic to make highly affordable, imminently legible objects of joy. There’s woke Bart Simpson, woke avocado, woke pot leaves, hearts, kitties, sunshine, and sunshades. And almost everything under $100. Truly, art for the people.
Last year Wokeface participated in Pianopushplay wherein she painted a piano to be installed and played in a public space. Her contribution is all rainbows, sunshine, and hearts on a background of clouds. The sense of levity lended by the scenery helps make the piano more inviting for anyone, especially youngsters to play. The bench itself is a large third eye, nodding to the spiritual experience of music.
Wokeface maintains a popular online store stocked with stickers, beanies, shirts and other affordable Wokeface branded goods. Artists' relationship to branded merchandising is fraught at best, and Wokeface is no exception, but ultimately the benefits outweigh the rest for her. "I have a lot of ethical and personal issues with capitalism and participating in it but at the same time my passion is to promote self-love and positivity.”