Black History Month Q&A with Utica-Based Artist Makiya West of Art By Blizz

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Our DEIB Coalition (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) has been having dialogue this month on “AfroFuturism” in the Arts. Afrofuturism expresses notions of Black identity, agency and freedom through art, creative works and activism that envision liberated futures for Black life.

Kalisha Lockhart, a Student Engagement Specialist with us at ICAN and a member of the DEIB Coalition – is in tune to many forms of art and it’s powerful affect on our well-being and platform to help with expression and representation. She wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight her godsister, friend, former classmate and track teammate Makiya West.

Makiya is a local artist (check her out: who strives for representation in her work. Kalisha admires the different technique and approach she takes with her art and reached out to do a Q&A with her so our audience can get to know her.

Take a read. Give her a follow. Let’s lift up local creatives in every way we can!

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Makiya West, and I am 26 years old. I am both a full-time artist and a college student. Currently, I am pursuing studies in graphic design and photography. Art has been my passion since childhood, and as I've grown older, my love for drawing and painting has only intensified. My creative mind is constantly drawn to artistic expression.

What is the inspiration behind your art?

The inspiration behind my art stems from a deep commitment to representation and cultural visibility. While I possess the ability to paint individuals from diverse backgrounds, my primary focus is on portraying Black people in my work. This deliberate choice comes from a recognition of the underrepresentation of Black art within the art community. 

In relation to Afrofuturism, where do you think you fit into that, if at all?

As a Black artist, I aspire to inspire other young creative Black children, showing them that theytoo can pursue a career in the arts and achieve success. The art community offers a multitude of career opportunities, including graphic design, animation, traditional art, photography, and more. By sharing my journey and accomplishments, I hope to encourage others to pursue their passions and contribute their unique voices to the world of art.

10/20/23 Group Exhibition with Upstate Art Collective was your first show, how was it and have you done anything else since?

The exhibition was fantastic! It showcased a diverse array of great art. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of, and I felt honored to have my work included. Following that, I was selected for the student show at MVCC this semester, and I am currently in the planning stages for my first solo exhibition.

What are your goals with your art?

My artistic goal is to establish an art center for low-income children in my community. The objective is to create a space for artistic expression without financial barriers. Upon completing my degree in May 2025, my primary focus will shift towards opening this art center, aiming to provide a creative space for children who may face economic constraints but deserve the opportunity to explore and develop their artistic talents.

Where can people see, find and purchase your art?

Email: (Custom paintings requests or business inquires)
Facebook: Makiya’s Art
Website: (Currently being re-designed and will be back up 3/1/24)