Alexis Eke is an illustrator and designer based in Toronto, Ontario. Inspired by renaissance portraits and traditional Japanese art, she aims to illustrate Black women in a contemporary light. Her mission is to expand the representation of black women in design and to evangelize, by creating a space for audiences to deeply reflect on themselves and their relationship with God.
With the foundation of a strong female Caribbean upbringing and relationship with God, she aims to use these important aspects to design a unique space for audiences to view her work. Growing up with women with strong personalities, she has always viewed women as resilient and independent. This has later translated into her artwork, as all of her illustrations are of women, to reflect her cultural and personal experience.
With a large body of my work filled with portraits of Black women, I aim to ask audiences two questions. First, “how are Black women represented in the art world?”. Most of the time in formal art spaces, Black women are brought in as moving parts, rarely entering these fields as a permanent feature. It's discouraging to think that with large art institutions like the AGO, that has been around for decades, a Black Canadian woman has never had a solo exhibition there.
Secondly, I ask audiences to reflect on themselves. The meanings behind my work relate directly to scripture, as I believe in honouring God in everything I do. It was not until I took my relationship with God seriously did I find a real explanation for the stylistic elements in my work. A common question I’m asked is, “What do the white lines and the little black bodies mean?”. The white lines represent the connection between what see influencing how we express ourselves. What we surround ourselves with, will manifest into our expression through words and actions. John 11:10 and 1 Corinthians 15:33 explain this –– If you walk in darkness, you will stumble because there is not light in you. But, if you walk in light you will not stumble because you see the light of this world. (John 11:10). Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (I Corinthians 15:33). Our friends, family, career, hobbies and social life are apart of our environment. These things affect us deeply, whether it affects you in a good or bad way is for the audience to decide for themselves. The little black bodies that I have recently added on my pieces represent how our “flesh” weighs us down. Habits or coping mechanisms that fed our flesh and only give us a temporary relief will only weigh us down, keeping us from progressing. We do this, instead of creating habits that feed our spirit, allowing us to feel a permanent relief and a stronger spirit creating a true path for healing. The fruit of the flesh does not benefit us, the fruit of the spirit does. John 6:63 explain this –– “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.” From this, audiences can reflect on the actions in their life that may be weighing them down.