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Artist Spotlight: Cianna Cunningham

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

In our next feature, we are introduced to Cianna Cunningham's most ambitious project, which navigates themes surrounding gender roles, social pressures, and the dangerous consequences that results when put through a prejudiced lens.

Cianna Cunningham “Krayzeekid” is a British Caribbean multi- media artist. She works primarily within the fields of Fine Art, Photography, Film and Fashion managing to create projects that merge with each discipline. Her projects hone in on the black experience, her heritage and the subversion of societal norms through gender and personal identity. Her hope is that her work educates whilst creating an empowered feeling for those who feels they’ve ever been miss or underrepresented in a positive light.

"I want to help people in need whilst simultaneously changing narratives through my practice, it has always been a goal," the artist explains when asked about her creative motivation. "I want to open up the conversation, and touch on issues that affect many communities, particularly the Black community, that would otherwise remain ignored or actively silenced."


This was the ultimately the goal for Cianna's three part docu-photo series entitled, Men Deserve Flowers Too, an artistic social commentary that celebrates masculinity in its many forms. The multifaceted project inspires open conversation surrounding gender, culture, identity and how social norms affect our relationship with nature. " I was first inspired by the notion that men only receive flowers in death- it was something that really spoke to me in the way that we view the bounds of what masculinity is."


'Men Deserve Flowers Too' installation view at Artscope: Aid Ukraine 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
'Men Deserve Flowers Too' installation view at Artscope: Aid Ukraine 2023. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

At the beginning of the project, a questionnaire to gain further insight into the human relationship with nature was issued to members of the public, from a variety of backgrounds, demographics, races and genders. Most of the responses from women were that they either had received flowers before from someone or had a personal relationship with nature. Whereas the men's responses were mostly ‘no’, many referred to their gender with one standout response: “I’m a guy, we don’t get those”. Ultimately, the respondent implied that their gender was a justification as to why they didn't receive flowers, that was a more significant or relevant statement than whether they wanted the flowers or not. Furthermore, it became clear many men had this accepted fate of not ever receiving flowers because it was not classed societally ‘normal', revealing the toxic masculinity social construct hard at work. Men Deserve Flowers Too aims to create waves in the structure of unhealthy masculine image and for men to be given a choice in receiving flowers, in life not just death.


Guests with the 'Men Deserve Flowers Too' installation at 'The Self-Space' exhibition preview. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

The body of work is composed of three parts: Men Deserve Flowers, a series of images and diary entries with young men reflecting on the question of receiving flowers. The second component, Public Interviews, documents taking this question wider to members of the public across genders. And the third, a fashion editorial-style photo series featuring three young black males called I See Three, identifying as either homosexual or heterosexual, directly confront the dangerous realities incited by toxic masculinity upon their demographic. "Through the eyes of racial stereotyping, such superimposed identities all too often lead to vilifying the Black male, or exoticising the Black gay male. In I See Three, I wanted to encourage my subjects to explore these scenarios and use flowers to either protect or empower them, or both, or neither. It was up to them how they used the safe space."

The artist, Cianna Cunningham, with her work at 'The Self Space' exhibition opening. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.
The artist, Cianna Cunningham, with her work at 'The Self Space' exhibition opening. Photo by Kate Fensterstock.

Artscope: Aid's initiative to support Ukraine resonated with Cianna's commitment to global citizenship and civil rights to liberty regardless of nationality, race or social class. "The unjustifiable inequality towards those who deserve the same freedom and safety as anyone else is a constant source of anger and frustration for me, one that drives me to want to help. I hope my practice creates a constructive change by spreading awareness to get more aid to Black & POC Ukrainian citizens that are abandoned during crisis."


Cianna is hugely passionate about her work, her activism and where it could lead. “This is probably one of my most heartfelt experiences I have ever had, due to all the genuine smiles, shocked faces and impactful conversations I've had along the way. Men Deserve Flowers Too has only just started: I've already learned so much about individuals' relationship with nature, interesting life stories and made great connections. It took me out of my comfort zone so many times, especially during the public interviews!"


Our auction ends bidding on 1 July, don't miss an opportunity to bid on Cianna's donated photographs by clicking here, and scroll to Lots no. 43-49, and 51-54.


For more information on our artists and how to support our initiative, please visit our webpage here, or contact kate@artscopeintl.com.

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