Studio Visit Book Vol. 1

ATHGames

Artist Corinne on spotlighting marginalized communities through her representational paintings

Corinne Forrester is a talented artist who is sharing her inspiring story with us. In this interview, she tells us how she went from working in graphic design to becoming a licensed massage therapist and how that journey influenced her creative expression. Corinne shares how her grandma inspired her to start doing art and how everything she’s been through has affected the way she paints. Join us as we learn more about Corinne’s fantastic journey and the powerful stories behind her beautiful paintings.

Corinne Forrester

Corinne is a native of Daytona Beach, and her passion for art blossomed at the tender age of 3, all thanks to her beloved Grandma Anne. She had a knack for transforming dull spaces into something beautiful, much to her mother’s occasional dismay. Since then, her love for vibrant colours and dynamic movements has only intensified. She is obsessed with art’s challenges and visions, describing it as a spiritual experience that intertwines elements of conflict and tranquillity. If she weren’t engaged in creative expression, it would feel like she wasn’t breathing. Aside from painting, she enjoys working with various mediums and pursues freelance opportunities in graphic design, copywriting, and massage therapy. Corinne draws inspiration from the intricate interplay between the complexity and simplicity of the human experience and spiritual resilience. Her overarching aim is to illuminate the beauty of marginalized communities and the concept of “otherness,” persistently showcasing their uniqueness until it resonates widely. Her dedication to portraying empowerment, endurance, and vulnerability themes is rooted in personal experiences and heritage as a “tall southern biracial BBW.” Her artwork is a tribute to self-acceptance and resilience, highlighting the importance of embracing diversity and celebrating individuality. Her pieces reflect a deep love and appreciation for all forms of uniqueness, symbolized through natural textures, vibrant colors, and meaningful symbolism.

1. Corinne, Can you share a pivotal moment from childhood that ignited your passion for art and how your grandmother’s influence shaped your art journey?

My maternal grandmother was the biggest Firestarter for me. She worked mainly with watercolors and acrylics. I remember her trying to get me to sit for her while she mapped out my portrait once—and, although I am not very good at sitting still, I became fascinated. Eventually, she sat me down in front of my own little canvas board and a set of mini tubes of Windsor Newton watercolors and dazzled me with layering. She then broke out the acrylics and explained pushing and pulling colors with the brush, and I was hooked! I eventually did my own thing, which consisted mostly of organic splashes of the most vibrant and contrasting colors, but she approved, haha. She never stopped encouraging me, and I’m forever grateful to her.

2. Your transition from a career in graphic design to becoming a licensed massage therapist is unique. How has this shift influenced your creative expression and the themes you explore?

So, shortly before I earned my BFA in Graphic Design, my dad passed away suddenly—late-stage cancer. Rocked my world. I managed to keep it together enough to graduate and find a few scattered design gigs over the next few years, but my heart wasn’t in it. It prayerfully occurred to me that I was missing hands-on work and human connection, and then I stumbled upon an ad for a local massage school, and that was that. I’ve always loved figurative drawing and painting, even as a kid. I just loved watching and studying people (like a little weirdo haha). Once I moved further into my massage therapy studies and practice, my fascination with form began to mix with the human condition and expression—the stories and inner workings behind the knots and pained faces. And that empathic curiosity just kind of organically spilled over into my painting…the inspiration.

Corinne Forrester No New Friends, 2020. 38 x 34 acrylic on birch panel

3. Your bio beautifully encapsulates your identity and heritage. How do you integrate your personal experiences as a “tall southern biracial BBW” into your artwork?

I intentionally represent my subjects as having diverse ethnicities, curly or kinky textured hair, full features, and curvaceous bodies—traits that were historically considered unattractive. It’s important to highlight our beauty and humanity. Quite simply, representation matters.

“Laura Thompson” InvCorrine Forrester Thaw, 2021. 46 x 36 acrylic on birch panel

4. Your statement speaks to the resilience and beauty of the “other” and underrepresented communities. Can you share a specific piece of yours that embodies this message and what inspired its creation?

“Evening Revelry” (2022, 48″ x 36″ acrylic on wood panel) is a quiet love song dedicated to the bodies of women. Particularly, Black women…but more specifically, us big gals. Society’s taught us that “fat” is a curse word and that intrinsic Blackness isn’t ideally beautiful. Dark complexions, kinky hair (3c-4c, icky), full lips, wide noses, and natural shapely figures are often underrepresented on positive world stages. However, in a chorus defying societal beauty standards, the ancestors encircle as nature exalts Her. She’s reminded lemons are the makings of creation’s sweetest lemonade. She’s not dark-skinned—rather, she mirrors Earth, deep hills and valleys kissed by the sun and embraced by the moon. The crown atop her head is thick, healthy, regal, boastful, and vibrant. Her unaltered breasts nourish life and embody genuine, ample femininity. She is gloriously voluptuous, naturally large and lovely, soft and hardened in the image of God. Perfectly “imperfect” as she reigns queen with or without anyone’s approval.

“Corinne Forrester “Evening Revelry” 2022, 48″ x 36″ acrylic on wood panel

I hope that viewers see themselves in my subjects or at least find a connection to them. At the risk of sounding froo-froo, I truly believe that many of the world’s problems stem from a lack of self-love. If you can’t love yourself, you cannot truly love another without conditions or stipulations. Once we genuinely realize the beauty in our imperfections and the divine order of it all, we begin to find grace, acceptance of ourselves and others, and an awareness of the injustices faced by others. Which spawns empathy, compassion, and a shared fight and desire for goodness and equity.

6. What is one piece of advice that you would give to aspiring artists?

Don’t sweat the haters; there’s something out there for everyone. Study the waymakers before you and your peers beside you to figure out what works, but don’t try to become them—find your own style (even if it’s inspired by someone else’s at first), be brave, and make your own way. Most importantly, keep doing whatever it is that brings you joy!

Corinne Forrester Cute. 2022. 13 x 12 acrylic on birch panel.

Corinne Forrester’s story shows us how art can change lives and how being strong through tough times can lead to amazing things. We’ve seen how her grandma started her love for art and how her own life made her paintings special. She teaches us to celebrate who we are and to be proud of our differences. Her story teaches us that we can turn it into something beautiful no matter what life throws at us. To learn more about Corinne, click on the following links to visit her profile.

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