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Artists' Pandemic: Jennifer Kasiama

Interview By Maia Poon

Art in all its forms is so essential for our emotional wellbeing, learning about others’ lives, and sharing our own stories. Especially now, with June 2020 being Pride Month, a pivotal moment for the Black Lives Matter movement, and in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the role of art is shifting but more important than ever. I had the opportunity to provide a platform for multidisciplinary artists and writers through online interviews, and they each had something unique to share. Keep creating!

Jennifer Kasiama




Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

1. Do you feel more or less connected to your art during social isolation?

In a strange way, I feel more distant from my work. I used to write from an observant standpoint. I was looking from the outside in. It was the best way to express things I have never felt but have heard from others. I was also producing a lot of my work for school, and the relationship I had with my writing grew resentful. I felt very tired because when school was over and there was no obligation to write for anyone—I couldn’t produce anything. It was frustrating until one day it wasn’t and my writing shifted.

2. Have you seen any noticeable changes in the subjects of your art?

I do notice a lot of change in terms of perspective. I was writing about experiences I never felt and my heart wasn’t truly in the work. Until recently, I was detached from my writing and I was comfortable with that. With everything going on with BLM, there was a sense of anger that I never felt before towards other people. For once, I acknowledged the feeling of white friends neglecting my needs and being racist yet posting on their stories about BLM, or the sadness of death having to be plastered everywhere for people to realize the dark truth of being black in the world. I took those feelings and I wrote from the heart. I believe it’s some of my best work because I can truly say it’s mine.

3. Why is art important right now, with the pandemic and civil unrest around the world?

Art is important especially now because we need a sense of release. For me, I exploded and my feelings were on the page staring back at me, and it was therapeutic. I do feel like there’s a lot of white guilt going around rather than black celebration. People are watching movies about racism and reading books which on one hand is good for educating themselves, but I don’t want to feel limited to my pain. Celebrating black joy is just as powerful as looking at our pain. We don’t need to be degraded to be heard.

4. How can art be used to share typically marginalized voices?

I am a black girl who has been tokenized her entire life. Art is a way for me to find peace in made-up fantasies and to make a world of my own. I’m only uplifted in my world because the media doesn’t see us as anything but our stereotypes. We are common tropes and nothing else. I want to break the agenda and I know others do as well.


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