April 25, 2021

Design Feast’s Makers Series—112th Interview: Shayla Hunter Created “The 100 Black Queens Project” to Show What It Means to Be a Black Woman Now

This COVID-19 pandemic can be described as one, massive inflection point—especially when it concerns race and gender. Both have been sharply pronounced in their humanity—culturally, socially, economically—as factors to keep unpacking toward progress over crisis. In her proactive effort of “The 100 Black Queens Project,” Shayla Hunter takes into account race and gender through visual storytelling that is personal, grounded and absolutely timely. Here, Shayla elaborates on her uniting advocacy and creativity—applied to an effort super-focused on revealing the raw experiences of Black women in society.

1. An awesome moment—to have discovered you through your creation of “The 100 Black Queens Project” in 2017 when you also shared more about it in the Design Feast series focused on Side Projects. This past year in 2020, how has this creative initiative of yours evolved?

The project has continued to grow and evolve in several ways. My process of working is about the same as when it started. I find incredible queens of all ages to feature for the project from all over, either through social media, introductions and by reading about who’s doing inspiring things. Creatively, I’ve introduced watercolor to my original medium of color pencils. I’m really enjoying the added texture and depth watercolor paints brings to the portraits. This past year, I also added more to the Instagram feed with watercolor text statements focusing on themes that were and still are important to highlight and bring to the conversation. This includes the fight for racial injustice, Black Lives Matter, voting at the polls, as well as how Black women approached their self-care during those lockdown months in the beginning of the pandemic.

2. Which events of the past year have further motivated “The 100 Black Queens Project”? Why?

Last year, 2020, will forever be marked in our history. From the fights against racial injustice, Black women and men being shot, a virus taking the lives of hundreds of thousands, especially in Black and Brown communities, a big voting year, the list goes on. It was a huge educational year for many of us and you saw Black women still standing tall and using their voices and fighting to make a change. From our first Black and Asian-American Vice President Kamala Harris, to Stacey Abrams, to the WNBA, it’s important that we’re celebrated.

3. Who has participated recently in your project—contributing their voices to it?

Each woman and girl that is part of the project is inspiring in some way. Some of the voices I’ve been really excited about most recently include comedian and actor

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