GRITS: TeMika Grooms

Artists are often incredibly modest individuals, who quietly retreat into their own spaces to create amazing works that speak volumes and inspire us to share our own stories.  Today's featured artist is TeMika Grooms and she is no exception to this objet d'art.  TeMika and I met in school at Georgia Tech, where we both studied Civil Engineering.  I transferred to Georgia Tech from Clark Atlanta University and TeMika was the lighthouse that guided newbies, like myself,  back to shore when we felt lost at sea.  She always had a very reassuring temperament.  After spending only a short time getting to know her, I realized that TeMika was special because she embraced the importance of work-life balance, even when surrounded by a stressful academic environment.  Over a period of two years, our friendship was less about studying for finals and more about a mutual love for the environment, family, and mind-body awareness.  However, it would be at least a year post graduation, before I realized TeMika's exceptional talent as an artist.  I experienced this  "ah-ha" moment the day I received a skillfully hand-drawn portrait of her oldest daughter, on the cover of a Christmas card, drawn by TeMika.  I thought to myself, "Wow, who knew?"      

Well, here we are, many years later and I am honored to share my friend, TeMika Grooms', beautiful work and story with all of you.  She is an artist, mother, mentor, and innovator who is well on her way to becoming an even greater creative force and art entrepreneur.  Enjoy!

Source: TeMika Grooms

Art Is Luv:  Where were you born?

Grooms:  I was born in the Midwest to an army family who moved around a bit.  I am the youngest of three children. My brothers were fortunate to spend nine years in Germany.  I only spent three, but that experience exposed me to different cultures, people, food and places.  I love opportunities to travel and meet people.  I may be a Georgia Peach, but my heart belongs to the world.

Art Is Luv:  Where do you currently reside?

Grooms:  I currently live on the outskirts of Atlanta at the edge of the woods with a pack of wild things! I call my daughters Thing 1 and Thing 2 sometimes (in honor of Dr. Suess).  They provide so much life and energy in my home and I think it is reflected in my art work. 

Art Is Luv:  Do you  believe your southern roots influence your art?  If so, in what ways are you inspired most?

Grooms:  In recent years I’ve done some research on my family tree.  What I’ve found is that I come from people who have traditionally worked with their hands, built businesses, educated themselves, protected our country and created art in its many forms.  It shows up in who I am and what my art becomes.   I am a self-taught artist who wants to educate, inspire and influence communities through what I create. 

My imagery doesn't directly relate to what you see in the south or my southern roots.  However, experiences growing up in the south have inspired me to create strong images of women and children, who are often of color.  
Art Is Luv:  What drives you to create art and how do you feel you have the most impact as an artist?

Grooms:  I am driven particularly by the needs of children and women.  I want my work to inspire them to be powerful.  Imagery and gender roles can challenge women daily.  But people should have the freedom to simply be, uniquely and unabashed, who they are.  I use free movement and     expressive colors to convey that in my art and illustrations.

Last year I pinned a book titled ARTISTA: Becoming Mother, Artist and Lover By Any Means Necessary. I wrote it because I was challenged to find work life balance.  As an adult I realized I had lost myself to my responsibilities.  My creativity had waned.  As I spoke to and researched women artists, I found that I was not alone.  So I decided to tell my story.  It was a cathartic experience for me.  I have been told that reading it has helped other women who struggle to be artists amongst all their other obligations.  Receiving those comments encourages me to continue to do my work.

Art Is Luv:  What art forms do you create  and what is your preferred media?

Grooms:  I am a visual artist who is best at using traditional media.  I love to draw!  I think it is so basic and still not easy to do, but it allows me to bring life into my work.  I also paint with watercolor, gouache and acrylics.  All of these bring me joy because they are loose and I can use them to create a feeling of movement.

Art Is Luv:  How would you describe the Atlanta art scene? Is it a welcoming place for emerging artists?

Grooms:  I believe it is a wonderful time to be an artist in Atlanta.  Artists of many genres can take advantage of the variety of large technology companies, startups and entertainment industry companies that are moving to and/or growing in the metropolitan area.  These companies need animators, graphic designers, set designers and many other forms of creative visual artists.  Politicians and business owners realize the economic benefits of supporting cultural events as an attractive draw for the visitors and residents.  

Art Is Luv:  Have you ever shown your work at a gallery? What sort of challenges do you face, if any, when submitting proposals to galleries?

Grooms:  I have participated in group exhibits in local galleries and have my first solo show coming up in July 2015 at FUSE Art Gallery in Atlanta.  I think the biggest challenge in submitting proposals really comes down to whether you can deliver a product that the gallery can market or sale.  

Art Is Luv:  As a parent, do you believe that art enables you to communicate differently or more effectively with your children?

Grooms:  Absolutely!  Communicating through the arts, of any genre, allows the artist to convey a message and evoke emotion through the energy they use to create.  The imagery I create for my children's books are often based on experiences I have shared with my own children.  Although, I hope they will not tire of being the muses for my art.  

Art Is Luv:  In addition to being an artist, you are also a civil engineer.  Do you feel that both your artistic and technical sensibilities complement each other and is there any advice you could pass on to a teacher or parent with regards to drawing relationships between art and science?

Grooms:  Parents should always guide their children towards their strengths.  Personally, I always tested as being equally balanced between the right and left brains on career assessment tests.  I'm creative and logical. Engineering was a good match at the time to develop both areas in my learning.  My engineering background taught me things I now apply in my art business.  It acclimated me to computers, design and digital illustration. It helped me to imagine, plan, execute and deliver a design.   All of this applies to being a successful art entrepreneur.

Art is Luv:  What's next and where can we see more of your work? 

Grooms:  I am currently working on a book entitled "They Call me Esperanza: A Reflection on The Immigration Dreamers".  This book uses sequential art to tell the story of a Honduran girl migrating to Atlanta, Georgia, that longs to create a life, that so far, she is only imagined.   For many refugee children, the journey to a new place can be a very lonely and dangerous one.  As human beings, we are all charged with the safe keeping of children, near and far.  My hope is that this book will shed light on the very truth that no one should have to journey alone.  The art work featured in this book will be on  display at the C4 Atlanta/Fuse Art Gallery for one night only on July 2, 2105 in a solo exhibit entitled THE NEVERENDING STORY: A Reflection on the Dreamers in Immigration.

Art is Luv:  Finally, what's for breakfast?

Grooms:  This spring I decided to fast to make room for a more creative process, so I juice every morning.  This morning I had a green smoothie with lots of veggies and a handful of almonds on my way to work.  Yum!