In Conversation With Chantrelle LeNoir: The Fearless Expressionist

The talented Chantrelle LeNoir is a visual artist, model, host and public speaker based in New York City. Born in 1993, Chantrelle is a dreamer who expresses herself with every brushstroke. Chantrelle recently hosted her own exhibition, ‘Fearless’ which encapsulated her evolving journey as an artist. This self-taught expressionist uses the female form to express the beauty of the female body and to empower women through her art.

Her experiences and moods are often reflected in her paintings which allow her audience to truly connect with her as an artist. Chantrelle shows no fear when it comes to expressing herself and sometimes uses her own body as her canvas to showcase what art means to her.

Chantrelle has accomplished a lot in a short period of time. She was a RAWards semi-finalist last year and has been recognised as an up and coming artist in a number of written features. She was featured at Howard Theatre as a visual artist and painted live in front of hundreds of people. In 2013, she was also the cover and lead character in, ‘The worst Dilemma’ a non-fiction urban tale written by Muhammad Sokhna.

Her website, ‘ The Black Mushroom’ captures her passion for exploring themes such as, liberation, empowerment and dreamlike states. A.Z took some time to catch up with Chantrelle and delve into the world of artistry.

When did your journey as an artist start?

Where every artist’s journey starts. The moment they wake up and realise that they were put here to share their story through whatever medium they desire. It starts every day, every time I pick up a pencil or brush. That’s the thing about being an artist.. the never ending journeys.

What inspired you to become an artist? And where do you get your inspiration from?

My mom, she taught me most of the techniques I still apply today. Watching her paint on my clothes and random pieces of wood we’d find around the neighbourhood. I owe a lot to her for passing on this gift.

I noticed you have a passion for painting eyes. Why do you create pieces centred around eyes?

Ever heard the term “eyes are the windows to the soul”. I’ve found that to be true, and through my art I wish to share pieces of my world, my mind, and my soul. Perspective.

Why do you centre a vast amount of your work around the female body?

The  female body is the most effortlessly beautiful thing walking this earth right now. I encourage women everywhere to embrace themselves, their bodies, and their power. I only wish to empower through my creations. Women are a gift to the world.

What is your favourite medium to use and why?

Sharpie, because it’s limitless. I can use it on canvas, wood, rails, walls, and glass.

What challenges have you faced and what do you enjoy most as an artist?

What has to be the most challenging is acceptance itself. So often are we (artist) looked at as unstable, childish, lost gypsy souls. When most times, that’s not at all the case.

As you stated acceptance of self can be very challenging. Being recognised as an artist can also be a difficult concept to come by. What do you think are the key elements that are needed to achieve this?

I think the key elements to achieving anything is by first not categorising yourself. I’ve come across so many amazing artist that have subjected themselves to a sort of box. And regardless as to how “free” this “career choice” this is supposed to be. They will only get as far as those far walls. I encourage people to challenge themselves to all the things they think impossible. don’t limit yourself in any way.. not even by labelling yourself as just a painter. If you are an artist, then ART! pick up a camera, stand in front of one, get inspired and be inspiring. Accept that you are here to create.. not just paint.

What helps motivate you?

Motivating other artist.

Do you hold certain pieces of work close to your heart and why?

All of them. Even the ones that I no longer own (which is most). They’re like my babies. Each of them represent a moment in time where I needed to create in order to maintain my sanity. They’ve gotten me through depression, breakups, losses, and gains. I only hope they mean as much to my collectors as they do to me.

You have named your website black mushroom. What is the story behind the name?

My name is Chantrelle La Trice LeNoir it’s french, but I’m Jamaican. Chantrelle is a type of mushroom, and LeNoir translate to the black. i.e the black mushroom.

What inspired you to become a tattoo artist?

I actually  started tattooing before  started painted. I was 18 when I ordered my first kit and it’s been a bittersweet relationship since. Like now… we’re separated. It’s complicated.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to become an artist? What do you think is the best way to showcase your work?  

DO IT! It’ll change your life. Its beyond creating pretty pictures. It’s therapy.

Show it off! Tell your friends about your new ideas, show your family, and of course post about it.

People don’t take social media seriously, but Instagram literally changed my life.

What can we expect next from you?

Don’t expect anything in life. Just enjoy the ride and hope for the best.

Follow Chantrelle on Instagram

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