New York-based British-Liberian artist, Lina Iris Viktor channels her inner resolve to shine as a beacon of light, illuminating those who came before her and guiding those yet to come.
Lina’s works are a merging of photography, performance, abstract painting and the ancient practice of gilding with 24-karat gold. Naming these pieces her “light-works,” she creates increasingly dark canvases embedded with layers of light in the form of symbols and intricate patterns.
Her recent presentation during The Amory Show in New York City in March emerged as a powerful moment that gave people the opportunity to interact with the physicality of her art and recognize the integrity therein.
“It was important in this social media age where work can be viewed without dimensionality, and artists are often portrayed as commodities to present my work on an esteemed platform and have the reception be honestly positive and supportive,” she told ESSENCE.
“Moreover, to present this work in collaboration with a fellow African woman, my gallerist Mariane Ibrahim, who is a visionary in her own right made the entire experience one that made me wholly proud.”
Beyond the accolades, she has faced opposition in the space she inhabits. “Many do not like how I do things and question the why. I have chosen not to succumb to those external forces and always progress from a position of inner strength and knowing,” Lina explains.
“The obstacles have only served to strengthened my resolve—and for that I am ever thankful.”
Continue to be inspired by her passion as Lina talks about her influences and what Black Girl Brilliance means to her.
ESSENCE: Name 5 women that came before you that you look up to.
Lina: Kara Walker, Winne Mandela, Frida Kahlo, Angela Davis and Nina Simone
ESSENCE: How have these women shaped your dreams and inspired you?
Lina: They have led revolutionary paths in their own right and within their fields because they walked in their truth. I desire to do the same thing. And in so doing, be an agent of change for the betterment of our society and consciousness—a beacon of light.
ESSENCE: What does Black Girl Brilliance mean to you?
Lina: To be brilliant as a black woman is to know that one is not defined by those terms. Instead, one lives above social classifications and identifiers. For me, I am wholly myself and do not compromise my vision.
ESSENCE: 3 Artists that represent Black Girl Brilliance to you
Lina: Nina Simone, Erykah Badu and Sade
ESSENCE: How do you hope to make black history?
Lina: By living honestly and truly on my own terms with all due respect to those who have paved the way for me to do so. To embody all that I claim to be and leave a legacy through the work I create that will embolden future generations to also rise above any circumstance they may face through pure resilience and fortitude. Brilliance is our birthright.
Learn more about her powerful work @linairisviktor and celebrate more Black History and #BlackGirlMagic all year round on Spotify’s Black History is Happening Now Hub.