“I want to surround myself with color, beauty, culture, and pattern, creating a world for myself,” Devyn explains, gesturing excitedly, her dark eyes shining. We are sitting together in Terra Café, a coffee shop near my studio, talking about art. I’m mesmerized by this young woman’s energy and obvious love for what she does.
Devyn is a painter and also a ceramic and fiber artist. She has a studio at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, the city where she has lived most of her life. Currently, Devyn is in a place of transition in her life, having just gotten married and bought a house. But ideally, her studio schedule would involve a morning routine, with 5-6 hours of uninterrupted solitude. A lot of her work is “self-conscious” in its early stages, so it’s important that she has privacy when she works.
Devyn’s paintings are large, bright, and saturated with color. Some paintings are abstract, while others are representational, with mythic and sacred themes. The subject matter and the jeweled tones and patterns remind me of stained-glass windows or ancient Byzantine mosaics. All of her paintings are lush, layered, glowing objects of beauty.
“I’ve been warned that beauty is a ‘bad word’ in the art world,” I say, sipping my kombucha tea. It is true that ever since I started pursuing art seriously, I have been cautioned against “Beauty” many times by well-meaning, more-experienced artists.
Devyn just laughs at this idea. “I know what resonates with me,” she says with confidence. “I’m informed by those things…but it’s not about making it pretty, it’s about making it my own. It’s about telling my story.”
Devyn’s story is that of a rich cultural heritage. She is American, her mother is Colombian, and her father is both African American and Jamaican. These cultures provide an endless source of inspiration to Devyn, and she uses fabric and textiles as a “doorway” into them. You can see these colorful fabrics collaged onto the paintings as well as added onto the ceramic vessels that she makes.