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Meet Deborah Walmer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Deborah Walmer. 

Hi Deborah, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia in a lower-middle-class family filled with trauma and abuse. I escaped my family and with the help of my best childhood friend, I went to college. I studied art and graphic design at Mount Vernon College in Washington, DC and took classes at American University to round out my graphic design program. I was nominated for the Honors program at MVC as well. I clearly remember getting the induction ceremony mail and thinking it was a mistake. My professors assured me it was well deserved. My self-esteem at the time would have said otherwise. While studying, I also danced. I started taking West African dance classes and fell in love with everything from the drums to the history and culture. I traveled with the dance company, Wo’se, to Guinea to study with the National Ballet troupe of Guniea. It was an amazing trip. During college, I started my journey as a feminist but also being anti-racist. I joined the Black Student Alliance and learned everything I could about West African Dance. I was awarded the Fine Arts Award at MVC in 91 when I graduated. 

I painted here and there after college and thru 2 marriages and 2 teens. After the dissolution of my second marriage, I dated someone who introduced me to David Lynch. After seeing his movie Living the Art Life, my life changed. I was wasting my talent and creativity. I started by buying supplies and sketching ideas. This was 3 years ago. 

Now, I volunteer as the Co-Exhibition chair of the Women’s Caucus for Art of Greater Washington, DC. I am also a Director for the National Women’s Caucus for Art. I was Communications Chair before that and was instrumental in starting a scholarship for a person of color female art student. The Women’s Caucus helped me make more art friends and also, I inspired me to create. I had my first art exhibit since college with Operation Arts, a nonprofit out of Baltimore in 2019. I exhibited my dance series and CityDance conservatory, including my oldest child, danced during the reception. I had 50 friends join me during the reception. It was really one of my best memories. 

I have been in many exhibits since then. I had a mini-solo of abstract works at a restaurant in Kensington, MD. I was recently awarded a commission for public artwork for the City of Gaithersburg and look forward to applying to more public art proposals in the near future.

I work full-time as a Manager in IT Collaboration. I was in the Racial Social Justice Initiative at DAI, an international development company. Some of my anti-racist work has spilled over into my art. Most of my work is abstract. I’ve focused my figurative works on black voices and female figures that have impacted my life personally, and my abstract landscapes are of trails and parks I’ve hiked, ran, or just walked. 

I hope to one day be a full-time artist. Until then, I’m a warrior to my trauma by being my true self. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I suffer from depression and anxiety. My self-esteem was very low from my childhood trauma and had imposter syndrome, so I didn’t create. Once I tapped into the creative need I had to fill it. I don’t have much family support so the road has been difficult without people I can depend on. I consider myself a strong, determined and creative person. I will find a way to accomplish my goals. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I create abstract oil and mixed media paintings. My subjects are emotions that manifest in colors and shapes on the canvas. 

My abstract landscapes start with a trail I’ve been on. I try to incorporate the meditative quality of the forest into my art. 

Lastly are the figurative works of oil paint, fabric, acrylic. These are usually figures that represent African royalty, goddesses, and family members. 

My work is vibrant and busy. My cubist style is a bit unique in that it resembles stained glass or unfolded paper. My goal is to have people connect to my work organically and to feel something. 

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I don’t see how luck could have played a role in where I am now. I think I do not really believe in luck. It’s all hard work. I enjoy every second of creating.

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