Immortalizing Our Beauty: Daisy Giles
I remember a book my parents had when I was a little girl, I Dream A World, a collection of photographs of women of color, all beautiful and legendary in their own right. I would always flip through the book on days when I was dealing with the complexity of my existence in a world that sometimes overlooks the depths of beauty that minority women possess. I made it a point to search for renderings, reminders if you will, of how special WE are, how much beauty WE possess and how deserving WE are of praise and admiration.
The search has become harder over the years. Our art has become more hidden, our presence in films and on television shows has become more scarce and while a beautiful Black woman stands tall as the First Lady of this great country, many of us never see our beauty immortalized. So when an artist like Daisy Giles makes it their duty to carve out a piece of the pie especially for us—it’s revitalizing.
Daisy Giles is a 22-year-old Minnesota native whose paintings speak to the eccentricities of femininity and to the ever-present line between sexuality and sensuality that women of color must carefully walk. She has tapped into the part of the visual art world that is most neglected: the part, in which diversity makes it to the canvas to forever be studied, acknowledged and prized. “ I wanted to fill a gap that I found in American art. I felt that women of color weren’t represented in that beautiful way. I wanted women of color to seem themselves represented as beautiful, as sensual, as every wonderful thing in artwork.” Although having realized her purpose in the art world, Daisy’s professional journey as an artist only began 2 years ago. “Art is in my blood. My mom is a painter, so are my uncle and grandmother. But I always saw painting as a hobby…a year away from college graduation I decided to pursue art full time.”
The decision to follow her passion has come with the reality that this life doesn’t always promise the lavish living that many other professions guarantee. In fact, many visual artists die long before their artwork is appreciated by the masses and sold for millions. But Daisy insists that is the lesser of her goals for her art. “My motivation is not fame but really for people to be blessed by my work and moved by it. For it to be remembered. That’s why I decided to do this, I feel like God blessed me with a gift and I am meant to pursue this as far as I can.” In her pursuit, Giles has also found a voice. Her style, almost Dali-esque in its surrealism, at times blurs the line between fantasy and reality, creating a world in which the characters of her portraits seem ethereal. Both the men and women she puts on canvas are exaggerated—hair bigger and livelier, cheek bones pronounced almost to an animalistic effect—capturing not only the eye of the beholder but the imagination. Each piece seems to be forcing the audience to dare to understand what Giles saw in the subject. When asked about her style, she states “When people look at my artwork, I want them to see themselves, to see what they could be, see what people could see in them. I try to bring out more than just the physical appearance, I try to bring out the surrealism of people.”
Even with her keen understanding of the purpose for her work, Giles has no problem with admitting that some of her pieces are simply for her enjoyment. In taking her passion for art to a professional level, Daisy hasn’t forgotten the underlying feeling of satisfaction an artist receives at the hand of their work. Though littered with messages of self-love and ethnic pride, her work also shows the style of a young woman who is having the time of her life doing what she loves. “I figure as long as I’m really happy with what I’m doing that’s something I can live with”, Giles remarks. And although loving her craft, she knows the power art has to alter and shape peoples’ minds. “My responsibility is to always be truthful to myself but also truthful to the needs of my own community. As an artist I know that art is powerful. I always want my art to be uplifting and to have some kind of intent to it”, she says, ”I’m really careful to make sure whatever I create is something that I support as a woman, as a person of color and as a woman of color.”
The accountability Daisy Giles takes as an artist shines through in every piece that she creates. The pieces restore hope and bring a feeling of inclusion to women of color. Knowing that our beauty will live on for centuries to come in the purest of all art forms makes the little girl who sat flipping through that picture book remember, once again, why she loves who she is.
That little girl has Daisy Giles to thank.
Written by: Iman N. Milner
Photos by: Ashley B. Nguyen