On Thursday, June 11th, San Antonio-based artist Celeste “CeCe” Lindsey joined us to do an Instagram Live takeover. She shared her artistic practice, how it’s shifted in the context of many global crises, and promoted her participation in the communal art raffle raising funds for various organizations that help to enhance Black lives. If you haven’t met Lindsey or aren’t familiar with her work, we compiled an in-depth look at her art and practice.
Streaming live from her residence, Celeste “CeCe” Lindsey centered herself in front of her artwork in which you see a cardboard cutout of a head (part of the larger composition). You can also see small to medium-sized graphite drawings, and watercolor paintings all tacked onto the wall. The combination of a dark color palette, human figures, and animals depict an ongoing narrative of vulnerability, temporality, and depth.
Ever since she was little, she has always gravitated towards drawing animals. Now, Lindsey manages to include them every chance she gets. Even though she has recently focused on her favorite animal, wolves, she has depicted various rabbits, birds, deer, mice, tigers, black panthers, and bears throughout the years. Through the emotional depth shown in each human expression in contrast with the “blank stares” drawn on each animal, her compositions demonstrate a beautiful confrontation of finding oneself.
As an artist, Lindsey considers most of her artwork as self-portraits –as a reflection of herself. However, she does combat the traditional interpretation of self-portraiture by distancing herself from her work and creating fictitious male characters. “I feel like I don’t need female imagery, I am a female artist, so I am automatically drawing from a female perspective. I am also a Black artist, so I am automatically drawing from that perspective,” shared Lindsey.
“My work brings the realm of my mind into the physical world. The mind is a hidden world parallel to the one we see, but unique to every person. It is more than mere feelings, passing thoughts, or bright ideas, but rather a combination of everything we experience from within and without, from birth and until death. I materialize my mindscape through the use of metaphors and symbolism. The temporal, delicate nature of my materials of choice—India ink and various papers—echoes an ever-changing, unpredictable state of the mind.”
Known for her installations using India ink and acrylic on cardboard, paper, and unstretched canvas, Celeste “CeCe” Lindsey creates small-scale drawings and large-scale paintings. While she shared that it was the idea of having to draw large compositions that deterred her from initially pursuing art as a major, her years at the University of Texas, San Antonio opened her up to new possibilities. Her large scale figures and compositions are usually compartmentalized to avoid taking up too much storage space.
And as for her materials, Lindsey does not like to limit herself. She is continuously experimenting with cyanotypes, coffee, and bar soaps. She also abandons the traditional presentation of art on a stretched canvas or framed, and prefers to expose the torn paper for a more vulnerable quality.
She offers great detail in her compositions and has shared that while her creative process is flexible and organic, it is all very symbolic and intentional. “Nothing is ever set in stone when I make my stuff. Everything is subject to change,” states Lindsey. The flexibility in her practice allows for the intrinsic interpretation of her mindscape and offers an accurate translation of an intuitive artmaking process.
Celeste “CeCe” Lindsey’s art journey began at six years old when she started filling her sketchbooks with drawings. Lindsey didn’t let the lack of access to “formal” art classes that came with being homeschooled deter her from doing what she loved. After years of being self-taught, Lindsey participated in the Southwest School of Art’s Teen Studio Intensive program. Lindsey shared how much she enjoyed her first experience attending art classes. She attributes a steep learning curve and passion for pursuing art in college to the program that exposed her to new techniques with charcoal and oil painting.
Lindsey left San Antonio to pursue Illustration and Graphic Design at John Brown University but ultimately decided to come back and transferred to the University of Texas San Antonio after her second year. At UTSA, Lindsey continued her studies and celebrated a “quarantined” graduation; she obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in painting earlier this Summer. Congratulations!
Despite the challenges some artists have faced during the pandemic, Celeste “CeCe” Lindsey shares that it hasn’t affected her that much. While having to finish her senior year remotely and without a studio space, Lindsey has taken a positive outlook and made the most of her circumstances and is thankful for her supportive family. She has continued to adjust her practice to fit working from her new art studio–her bedroom. She continues to work on projects and is excited to continue experimenting with materials and techniques.
In light of recent demonstrations and public demands for social justice following the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, artists have taken creative approaches to raise funds for social justice organizations centering Black lives. Earlier this month, Lindsey participated in an “Art for Black Lives” raffle project. She offered a pencil on watercolor paper drawing titled One By One as a response to Ahmaud Arbery’s killing. Organized by artist, photographer, and poet Emiliana Henriquez, the raffle project supported four organizations that help enhance Black lives. Henriquez selected each organization based on the four elements that she felt created a better outcome for families: art education, nutrition, Black mothers, and justice. One had to donate to one of the selected organizations, screenshot their receipt, and share it to join the raffle.
About the Artist
Celeste A. Lindsey is an artist currently living and working in San Antonio, Texas, and studying at the University of Texas at San Antonio for her BFA degree. She works primarily with India ink and acrylic on cardboard, paper, and unstretched canvas. Using narrative, symbolism, metaphor, and abstraction, she creates both small-scale drawings and large-scale paintings that abandon the traditional stretched canvases and frames. In 2018, Lindsey had two pieces accepted into UTSA’s Art Meets Science: Comparative Anatomy Spring 2018 and Fall 2018 Exhibitions, and exhibited two ink drawings in the 3rd Annual Marilyn Dickey Juried Art Competition at the Sugar Land Art Center & Gallery in Houston, Texas. Lindsey was nominated by UTSA painting and drawing faculty to exhibit a piece in the San Antonio Art League Museum Annual Collegiate Exhibition in 2019. In the same year, Celeste Lindsey was nominated and accepted as one of twenty-six artists to spend the summer in residence at Yale Norfolk School of Art. In the fall of 2019, she exhibited a series of ink drawings in her first solo show titled Youth at Southtown Art Gallery in San Antonio, Texas.