An interview with Artist, Erica Deeman

For the newest addition to our 2020 Vision series we chatted to esteemed British Jamaican Artist, Erica Deeman, who resides in San Francisco.

As huge fans of her work which explores race, gender and cultural identity we were excited to find out more about how she has been getting on this year:

How have you been remaining creative through the lockdown? 
It’s definitely been an adjustment being in the lockdown. My practice is a space for collaboration through photographic portraiture, during this time when it is not safe to be together I have definitely felt a degree of loss. Loss of the interactions and wonderful connections I make through my work and also the loss of shows and the opportunity sharing of my work. It is however outweighed by the seriousness of this moment and staying safe is the utmost of priorities.

Just before we entered the lockdown, my gallery, Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco, and I decided to share some new works in a show titled Familiar Stranger will be live 25 August 2020 - 1 October 2020. The vast bulk of my creative energy has been spent working towards this show. It’s been interesting and challenging to create work in my home environment, especially as these new pieces are made from clay. My kitchen has become a clay studio. I found space and resources that have been sitting right under my nose and parts of my home that were underutilized have become workspaces. Finding and reusing space and materials has offered new creative outlets and cleared the way for more expansive thoughts and making. For example, my office is now a nook under a bookshelf!

I’ve also taken the time to be and feel during this time. Our voices as artists, as black artists are needed more than ever but it’s also important to take breaks for self-care and I have fully embraced that.  

Are there any learnings or discoveries you have made during this time?

I am so thankful for the resources I have, for my family, art community, and for technology during this time. Technology has allowed me to keep in touch with my Mum so I can see her daily even though we are over 5,000 miles apart. Seeing her hs kept me grounded and sane! I see the small gifts of life that maybe I overlooked,  the hummingbirds that visit a tree outside of my window or the beautiful but scary spider that lives in our bathroom! Overall, I have become more aware of my surroundings and my body within it. 

Undoubtedly I have been reminded of the social divide between the people who have resources and safety versus those who do not. The deaths of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Brionna Taylor, and countless others who have been murdered at the hands of police have reminded me of my vulnerability as a black woman walking on this planet.  

Are there any online showcases you’d recommend to check out?

I have tried to limit my screen time during the lockdown but I’ve been really inspired by artists’ talks from the Museum of the African Diaspora @moadsf, in San Francisco. I love this place, in person and virtually. They have shared a wonderful program since the lockdown. 

I’ve been reading more books than ever. Here’s my quarantine reading list:

There There Tommy Orange
Girl, Woman, Other Bernardine Evaristo
NW Zadie Smith
The Sellout Paul Beatty
Persepolis Marjane Satrapi
Familiar Stranger Stuart Hall
The New Black Vanguard Antwaun Sargent (Photo Book)
Portraits Lewis Watts (Photo Book)
Such a Fun Age Kiley Reid


Who are your favourite artists to follow?

Goodness me! So many great working artist to follow. I have to plug some friends and peeps I admire:




Finally, which would be the first gallery you’d visit, anywhere in the world, come the great unlock?

I’ve been thinking about ‘the institution’, and how cultural structures built-in our society reflect the wider oppression of black and brown people. It’s made me think about access to art, and to ask what is art? I’m really interested to see how institutions approach and decolonize themselves. So after the great unlock, I’ll be carefully choosing the spaces I support and frequent.

I would like to make it to L.A. to The Underground Museum. They have an expansive and exciting program and are rooted in supporting and growing community @theundergroundmuseum Every time I visit, I am transformed.


You can see more of Erica's work here:

IG: @erica_deeman