Dana Todd Pope’s work is vibrant and captures the imagination of its viewer.That’s what this writer found when I had the opportunity to see her work at the annual Gallery D’Estee art event last month. A former Ford Model Management print and runway model, Pope has successfully transitioned to a sought after emerging artist. Influenced by personal experiences, the perspective of her ingenuity is rooted in children, family, womanhood, spirituality, and entrepreneurship. Pope is also the author and illustrator of Know Money, Grow Money, the first in a series of children’s financial literacy books.
Early in your education, I read you had an assignment to draw a picture and the teacher raved over your work; how important was that for you and how important would you say art and art education is?
For me, art was the only place I got to use my imagination. I got to daydream with freedom. I got to make it up as I went along, on the fly, relaxed, throwing all my cares into my work. Right now, we’re living in the creative age. Art is the gateway to our future. We need solutions for problems we haven’t even created yet. We need daydreamers to be the leaders of tomorrow, creating solutions to problems as they come along. It begins with art.
What does art mean to you?
Art is my calling. Whenever I’ve put it down or put it on the back burner, it haunted me. Nothing was ever as sweet as creating art. I feel it is my purpose and why I’m here. It is not for me, it is for the people my work touches.That is why I must be obedient to its call.
If you were not an artist what else would you be?
I really don’t know. I have tried other things, other paths. I feel like it is the foundation of my purpose in this world. Everything I do will have art at the roots.
Talk about your journey to realization.
It’s really a long story, but I’ll make it short. I’ve always wanted to be an artist. That was my plan until I had a teacher tell me that “art was a good hobby but not a real career” in fourth grade. Unfortunately, I believed her for many years and I missed out on a lot of opportunities to cultivate my artistic gifts. However, I never stopped practicing. I would go to the library and check out books on Art techniques and I would learn them on my own. I always had a sketchbook close at hand. I did this for years. I never took any art classes in school except for two in college. Finally, I reached my breaking point. For real, I was waking up in the middle of the night in cold sweats. “Paint!” would echo in my mind and spirit. After eight years of modeling and trying to do anything but be an artist, I had to submit.Then I wrote a business plan.
What advice would you give other aspiring artists?
God seems to place aspiring artists in my path every once in a while. I just remind them that the overwhelming urge they have to create is not for them. It is for the people their gift gives a voice to and the hearts that are soothed by their brush strokes and those who feel validated seeing themselves portrayed in a work of art. We are just the conduits for the message.It is so much greater than us…
What do youwant audiences to take away from your work?
I want them to feel moved in some way, validated … important … justified … heard … valued … hopeful.
For more information, visit http://www.danatoddpope.com/.