Stylo Starr Interview: “Fight or Flight”

Michael: What made you want to accept this particular commission, for the Reckoning 3 cover? Your enthusiasm is heartening and contagious and precious hard to come by in these times, and I’d love to know where it comes from.

Stylo: Thank you! I love telling new narratives through found images. I’m able to do this in many mediums; album covers, clothing, and print media. I strive to make a new world or environment in every composition. I was very intrigued by the challenge of representing a part of as many stories as I could. Through collage, I’m given the choice to create multiple stories in one piece, or stick with an overarching theme—this is the magic of the medium. I’m pleased with the results, and I hope the readers are, as well.

Michael: Was “Fight or Flight” inspired by anything Sakara sent you from the issue? Did you already have any of these images in mind beforehand?

Stylo: I’m a huge collector of images – I’ve organized them in their own sort of taxonomy and this makes it easier to begin my creative process. Sakara had sent me a few stories to look over to spark some inspiration—and I was taken by each one. The characters, locations, and even objects illustrated in many of the stories inspired much of the final composition. From ‘More Sea than Tar’ to ‘The Blackthorn Door’ the energies of many of the stories featured this issue live on in ‘Fight or Flight’.

Michael: How do you feel about the terms “afrofuturism” and “afropunk”? Would you apply them to your work, would you seek out other work to which that term gets applied if you were looking for inspiration or a sense of community? How does art contribute to making a movement–or a community–stronger?

Stylo: I’ve had my work referred to as Afrofuturist in the past, and I would agree with the assessment. We believe that in order to look forward, we must acknowledge what has come before us. “In this great future, you can’t forget your past,” as Bob Marley famously forewarned. My work relies heavily on Black historical print media from the turn of the century, the 50s and 60s, right through to the early 90s. I use these images and recreate narratives and compositions that speak to today’s visual literacy, and hint at where we may be heading.

I definitely look to other artists that work similarly to myself and that also identify as Afrofuturist. We all work and compose in so many different ways. It’s a very exciting time for the movement. It’s a wonderful blessing to see how other creatives filter the past and make sense of the future in their own fashion. It’s as much a reflection as it is motivation, and I’m very honoured to be a small part of it.

Michael: Thank you so much!

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Stylo Starr

Stylo Starr is a Jamaican-Canadian artist or “visual alchemist,” and is known primarily for her multi-layered collage work, which has been featured on large public installations, international publications and apparel. Starr’s visual investigations surround predominantly Bodies of Color and their relationship to the basic principles and elements of design, while reaffirming their agency as revered subjects of art history.

Journalist Evelyn Myrie writes: “For Starr, her work is a ‘practice in revolutionary love’, rejecting the lingering effects of white supremacist ideology.”

Stylo unveiled her first major solo show at the Art Gallery of Hamilton alongside the works of Andy Warhol in 2017, and recently completed a residency with Hamilton, Ontario’s Cotton Factory studios, continuing her explorations in collage and multimedia arts.

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