Girls On the Rise: Gabrielle Narcisse

Gabrielle Narcisse is a young spirit overflowing with artistic talent. Gabrielle dabbles in almost every form of visual art including dance, photography, and drawing. She is a supporter of the BLM movement, and uses her platform to speak out on issues. Her Youtube can be found here, and you can check her out on Instagram here!

Risen: What do you think about people who think art is obligated to have a deeper meaning? Do you agree?

Gabrielle: I think people with that mindset about art can have their opinions and that's valid but I don't fully agree. I think art is such a broad thing and art can mean so many different things to different people, which is really cool. Sometimes I see things online or in art museums and I can spend time thinking about deeper meanings or what different images and symbols represent. That's one part of art I enjoy and something I'm able to do since I've had art education, but I don't think all art has to be that way. 

Something that Jean-Michael Basquiat touched on in his documentary was that he hates how art has to be one thing for a certain group of people that only they can understand and have access to and I totally agree with that as well. I don't believe art is obligated to be one thing because that only caters to a certain group of people who may be able to understand it and art should be for everyone. Something can just look cool or interesting or be entertaining! 

Risen: If you saw Frank Ocean what would you do or say to him?

Gabrielle: If I saw Frank Ocean on the street or something I'd say, "Oh my god are you Frank Ocean? All of work inspires me so much and I can't believe you actually like Geminis cause everyone seems to hate my sign."

Risen: As a jack of almost all trades, you’ve touched on multiple mediums over time. What are differences and similarities in each medium that aren’t quite obvious?

Gabrielle: I think different art forms have more connections than others might think. For example, I can relate dance to pretty much everything. Choices of color in any visual piece remind me of choices of movement. My teacher could call out colors and I can just feel how to move to them. That sounds corny [laughs]. Poetry and dance are also similar because they are both forms of expression and storytelling. Both can show snapshots of memory, a feeling, or an atmosphere. I actually can't really think of any mediums I use that don't connect in some way.

Risen: Which medium do you think is easiest for you to express yourself in the truest form?

Gabrielle: I actually think dance is the easiest way to express myself. I think because I've seen so much incredible art, I often compare my work to other people's work, (which isn't good because everyone's work is true to themselves and trying to compete with or replicate that is useless, disrespectful, and unhealthy). It makes me wonder if my artwork "pushes it" enough or is "cool" enough. The same with photography and film making. 

With dance I don't have to worry about getting out my art supplies or finding someone to model for me or charging my camera, with dance I can just move. There seems to be this idea that dance has to be about how high your leg is, or what music is playing, or has to be choreographed when it really doesn't have to be that way. If I'm excited or if I'm angry, I can just dance because my body is always with me and what I wan't to express is inside of me. Dance to me doesn't have to be a certain thing. I think just rolling on the floor can be considered dance! Sometimes I can't even express things in words. So yes, dance is definitely easiest. 

RisenHow has the rise of technology and social media impacted your art, and your artistic process?

GabrielleI think technology and social media have heavily impacted my art. I often watch things or listen to music while I draw or collage so that is a clear way I use technology in my artistic process. I'm often inspired to draw, watercolor, or collage, people that I look up to on Instagram or have inspired me in some way. When I was younger, I often just looked up random things to draw on Google Images but now I draw people that I feel like I have a connection with (even if they don't know I exist).

Risen: From your social media, it’s clear you’re a strong supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement. How do you use your artistic abilities to speak out on issues such as BLM?

Gabrielle: I recently choreographed and posted a video of choreography I created to "Strange Fruit" by Nina Simone. (..) I think that dance really speaks out in a different way because we hear the stories about black people dying all the time but how stiff, pained, and beaten down my movements were in that piece really reminds others of the pain in the black community. In part of the piece I was reaching out and grabbing for something or someone but I still couldn't move I think that part really speaks about how we try to move forward or uplift ourselves but can not do it without others help and support.

Another way I use my art to speak out on things, is just by the subjects I choose to recreate on paper. I enjoy drawing people of all backgrounds in a positive beautiful way because those are the kinds of faces I want to see more of, the kinds of faces that aren't even given a chance. 

In my youtube videos I explicitly talk about things I have on my mind or things I'd like to educate people on like a video I made about privilege. 

And in a project I just completed I have words and images of black girls speaking on issues that currently affect or have affected them. I think art can speak in many ways. Here is another example.

You've seen Gabrielle be great on camera, now see her be great on paper! 

Artwork of Amandla Stenberg and Brandon Nembhard

 Photo of one of my best friends during the shooting of one of my short films