Clymenza Hawkins is known for her photo collage images of Black women as faeries adorned with butterfly wings reflecting the metaphoric power of a butterfly emerging out of obstacles as survivors in wisdom, grace and pride. A native of New Britain, Connecticut, Clymenza always had an interest in art and literature which led her to self taught in photomontage and collage from 1990. She acknowledges her technique from years of being creative artistic director for B.Dalton/ Barnes & Noble bookstores designing window displays in New York City including McNally Jackson. Jazz vocalist Leena Conquest commissioned Clymenza’s concept for her portrait as a Butterfly woman on cd cover Come Fly Away. Clymenza photographs real women, recreates their images through mixed media techniques. She was selected by the Romare Bearden Foundation and Full Spectrum Experience as one of the artists for the Bearden 100 Project, an online group exhibition for the Centennial Tribute to Romare Bearden. She was also one of the artists featured in the exhibition Cover to Cover: 20 Years of African Voices Magazine in Harlem’s Schomburg Center Research in Black Culture. Grammy Award Winning vocalist Erykah Badu also commissioned Clymenza’s concept portrayed as a Butterfly Womanfolk for her LIVE cd cover.
Cut paperworks and photomontages rewrite Black women as heroines of classical folklores. The restaging of this marginalized and unrepresented voice reflects the mythical and magical perspectives on reality. Her current work, Natural Enchantments depicts the WomenFolk into visual narratives inspired by writers including Zora Neale Hurston, Angela Carter, Rita Dove, James Baldwin, Oscar Wilde, Toni Cade Bambara, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ruth Foreman and Octavia Butler. Clymenza weaves Black oral traditions with other world cultures and histories. Black WomenFolk are portrayed as the new modern generation whose metamorphosis can be inspired by a swan, deer, horse, butterfly, mermaid, bird, spider or a Sister WomanFolk. These heroines are powerful visionaries of their destinies refusing to be just another damsel in distress.
“My parents are of African American descent, my father’s mother a Native American. I an not impressed with our culture’s identities still colliding against racial stereotyped imagery encouraged by reality t.v. shows, social media, movies and music videos. My contribution against such stereotypes is to present visual narratives blending our rich folklore with a modern twist into the classical mainstream of “Once upon a time”.
Clymenza Hawkins as set designer for award winning Commercial Film Editor Sewra Gee”s film Proclamation Punctuation, a homage to the exclamation point!
In songstress Ledisi’s music video, Higher Than This, Clymenza is featured as a mother to a young girl who has aspirations to become a singer. Set in New York City Harlem’s Sugarhill , her journey in a day begins from a brownstone to St. Nick’s Jazz Pub.