As part of The WAVE’s celebration of Black History Month, Pat Prescott sat down with one of the honorees making major contributions right here in the L.A. community.
Visual artist, Synthia Saint James is known in the art world for her vibrant, featureless portraits of people that have most famously appeared as the cover art on the books Waiting To Exhale and the very first Kwanzaa stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
This native Los Angeleno artist has had her work displayed all around the world with many famous names also being avid collectors. She tells Pat about the first moment she knew she wanted to be a painter and starting her journey to becoming one of the most influential artists in the African-American community and beyond.
Synthia first knew she was destined to create art “when I was five.” She added, “When I think about it, I just know that something pronounced in me said that’s what I wanted to do, and it was more than a hobby, I really wanted that to be what I did in life. I can’t explain it exactly.”
Her work as an artist has opened up numerous opportunities in various fields including acting, writing and even teaching as an honorary professor at universities. It’s this success as an artist that fills her with the biggest sense of accomplishment having been able to “do a lot of the things [she] set out to do.”
Synthia added that “want I really wanted was for the art to be recognized, and now it’s been recognized.”
Her famous works have been celebrated by the art world and admirers alike, but Synthia wants fans to remember that she’s just being herself.
On what she wants people to remember her for she said, “that I’m just Synthia,” adding “and that I’ve been gifted and being gifted, there’s a responsibility.”
We congratulate Synthia for being an instrumental figure in art and painting the way for future visionaries in the community.
For more on this Black History Month honoree, listen to Pat’s complete interview with Synthia Saint James in the segments below.
Part one: Synthia talks about the first moment she knew she wanted to be an artist and setting out on her journey to becoming an influential artist in the African-American community.
Part two: Synthia talks about developing her own vibrant artist style starting from self teaching herself painting wildlife to portraits to evolving into her signature featureless portraits of people.
Part three: Synthia talks about painting the cover art for books like Waiting To Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and the first design for the U.S. Postal Service’s Kwanzaa stamp. She also talks about the famous names who love to collect her work.
Part four: Synthia talks about her proudest moments and taking on new projects, including a role on the TV show Trophy Wife playing herself.