• Bridney Casillas

By Any Means Necessary: An Interview with Kin Queen

Updated: Mar 31

The Bright & Bold Visual Artist Discusses Her Recent Mural at Cultured Studios, Black Culture, & Her Self-Taught Background

By Bridney Casillas

New London-based Visual Artist, Kin Queen

28-year-old Kin Queen is a visual artist from New London, Connecticut, who recently completed a mural at the Cultured Studios location on 237 State Street in Downtown New London. The mural, titled By Any Means Necessary was completed on March 5th and derives from a famous quote in a 1964 speech by Malcolm X during the civil rights movement that called for equality, affirmative action, and Black liberation by any means necessary.

"Non-Black people digest Black liberation better when we show up with tap shoes. My art brings tap shoes and a machete that dares the viewer to make me put them on," says Kin Queen.

By Any Means Necessary is her first-ever mural that is a multidimensional piece created with a few materials without the help of professional techniques or tools. Taking 16 hours to complete, By Any Means Necessary was created with spray paint, acrylic paint, adhesive rhinestones, and glitter spray paint to add 3D elements.

Kin used bright colors, specifically pastels that compliment the darker themes the artwork explores. She enjoys creating art that condenses her ideas and feelings into a tangible piece of work cherished and remembered by future generations.

Referring to her work as being "enveloped in satire," the painting takes on a political and existential message. Kin illustrates a young anime-styled Black girl surrounded by vibrant colors styled in graffiti.

By Any Means Necessary, 2021. Mixed Media Mural Painting. Photo by Juanita Sunday.

The girl on the mural is Chibiusa, a character from the manga and anime Sailor Moon. Chibiusa is a descendant of royalty from a foreign place sent to fight for good and justice. She also holds a gun in the mural, implying that she will fight for justice and equality.

"Much of what we take for granted in this country - from the entertainment to the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, the way we talk, and the liberties we take for granted, come from Black people."

Kin creates mixed media visual art and designs fashion pieces and costumes that deal with the femme, black experience through Black culture and satire. Her work falls under Black Pop-Art, an art style that touches on themes that take a unique approach to express and tell stories through black culture.

Throughout her youth, Kin's mother encouraged her and her brother to explore their interests after realizing her children had an affinity for visual arts. Her mother, an advocate for education, enrolled her children in art clubs, art camps, and after-school programs that further enhanced their artistry.

When she was a teenager, creating was apart of Kin's identity, exploited by herself and the people around her. After realizing this, she started to avoid formal classes and stuck to being self-taught.

"I did it to please friends and family, who in turn, used my talents to impress and gain favor. 'The girl that draws and stuff' was always expected, and that is what I think caused the detachment, and as an adolescent, I did not have the words to articulate my growing exhaustion."

According to Kin, the detachment came after listening to her inner voice advising her to take a step back. She also decided not to allow others to exploit her craft, something she struggles with today, especially with social media and digitally marketing herself.

Close-Up of the Mural. Photo by Aly Maderson Quinlog.

While studying Theatre at Eastern Connecticut State University, she enrolled herself in performing arts and costuming courses. She learned how to design costumes and paid attention to the latest fashion trends. After graduating in 2015, Kin focused on her art in her free time, all while forming business relationships and friendships with local organizations in New London.

Kin spends two to five days painting depending on the size, subject, and materials used. Her preferred medium is acrylic and ink, but she does incorporate recycled materials. For example, if she is painting someone smoking a blunt, she will use an actual blunt wrap in the art piece.

She has previously used glitter, shells, lint, ashes, nail polish, and blood, to name a few. Kin has learned to embrace her creative side and incorporate simple, inexpensive materials that help make her art pop out.

"Some of us, including me, had to learn to blend colors with RoseArt crayons - now that is fucking talent," says Kin.

By using everyday materials, her work is a visual of the circumstances in which it reflects. Kin also challenges the elitism that plagues that art community and does not allow those who advise her to upgrade her mediums to oils paints and pastels to make her feel like her art is less than.

Kin Queen is undoubtedly an underrated artist who has explored several themes that showcase professionalism and uniqueness. She leaves the viewers guessing and finding different meanings to interpret her paintings. An artist who stands true to her identity and focus, Kin Queen is truly a force to be reckoned with.

"Art has always been the colander where I dump my thoughts. That has helped me sift through my feelings and strip away the bullshit so I can work on myself."

Kin Queen spray painting her mural at Cultured Studios on March 5th 2021. Photo by Juanita Sunday.

Be sure to follow Kin Queen on Instagram @TheSubSaharanCollective for updates on her art.

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