Meet Bria Royal…
She’s a lot of things. She’s a Chicago native and a Northwestern senior. She’s bilingual with bits of Spanish peppering her sentences, and she’s a Communications major. She’s black and Latina, and marries the two identities seamlessly. Each of these small details creates Bria Royal, a multidimensional artist and activist with an acutely unique point of view.
“Everything I do has to be done somewhat visually,” she says. “That’s just the way I make meaning of the world.”
In her eyes, there are just certain things better understood through images and pictures; including her school notebooks. Intricate doodles are spread here and there while a flying Kanye in the image of Icarus is intermixed with bullet point notes. Outside the realm of college ruled paper, Bria works in ceramics, animation and paint and has wanted to be an artist “since forever.” Being a creative and working within those mediums has grown to be a part of her identity, inseparable and undoubtedly important.
Her most recent, and proudest work, Black Girl Mania is an extension of her identity as an artist. The afrofuturist comic, to be released monthly through the online magazine La Repuesta, follows the adventures of Géminis, an afrolatina living in the future.
To read Black Girl Mania is to look into the mind of its creator. As bipolar and binational, the protagonist is striving to maintain a complete sense of identity in a world constantly demanding she split herself into separate boxes. Like Bria, she represents a multidimensional narrative.
“It’s definitely my mind on paper… or on the Internet I guess.”
This Northwestern senior can also tack activist onto her résumé, and through her art she expresses her position in the fight for social justice. Originally she separated the two into distinct categories, but as with other areas of her identity, she found a way to marry things she views as central to her character.
“My activism can’t be on the street getting arrested, and when you can’t be that person… you can feel a little inútil—useless,” She said. “Then I started realizing my art could be a useful part of the movement.”
Recently, she’s created images for the Chicago Black Lives Matter Movement, a project titled Postcards for Pendejxs and Unschackle NU. Her activism mirrors multiple fights from sexism to racial equality she considers them all to be important and, through her art, she is active both on and off campus.
“My activism can’t be on the street getting arrested.”
Right now Bria’s work can be found on her website, on For the People’s Art Collective, and, of course, in La Repuesta as she continues to work on Black Girl Mania. As for the future, she tries not to obsess over it too much. At the very least she knows two things to be absolutely true, that she wants to be an artist and that she wants to be completely in control of how she spends her life.
“I want to be fully autonomous in my time management and not be on a university’s clock.”