Growing up in a suburb of Paris, graphic designer Aurélia Durand always saw a diverse range of people around her. “There are so many cultures and races around Paris,” she explains, “it’s natural to have it represented in art as well.”
When she moved to Copenhagen to do an Erasmus exchange in Product Design at the Danish Royal Academy of Arts, she dove into the world of design-oriented thinking. After moving back to France to finish her Master’s Degree, she returned to Copenhagen to experience life here as a non-student; what Aurélia calls, “real Copenhagen life.”
Although she had chosen to be in the city, the diversity she was used to was missing, as well as something in her professional life. “After graduating, I was interning for companies in product design – mostly furniture – and the part I loved most was the drafting beforehand. But I felt depressed by the winter and by the lack of color all around me. I started creating, and what I saw was that I was really creating me – my experience – and that’s what I had missed.”
Aurélia makes digital drawings, as well as acrylic paintings, that showcases bright color, as well as representations of blackness. “For me, color and shape go together; the right colors in the wrong shapes will still look off, so I work to find balance. And to see black men and women in my art is very natural for me, but I know that it’s different from what is typical in Denmark.”
We briefly discuss representations of black men and women in Denmark, touching upon the “Cirkel Kaffe” symbol of a stereotypically African woman’s profile. It’s an image you can find around Denmark, including the coffee itself, posters, and even home items like pillowcases. “When that’s the only representation of black women in graphic design, or poster art, it feels like an object rather than something celebratory. Through my pieces, I feel like I am filling a hole and sharing my own culture. It’s also important for people of color to seem themselves.”
How then, does Aurélia feel about her work being in the homes of white people? “It’s great!” she laughs, “Of course I want everyone to enjoy my art, and if they are buying it from me then I know they support what I do. And anything that brings color into a space is a good thing; we need more of it in Denmark!”
Aurélia has recently been working on animations, an easy transition for her work because there’s already so much movement in her shapes. The animations are playful but elegant, and so bright they have an almost optical-illusion effect.
By tapping into the Scandinavian appreciation for simple, bold graphic design, Aurélia hopes that the introducing intense color and joyful depictions of blackness will slide more easily onto the walls of those looking for exciting new art. Treat yourself to something that will bring brightness to your home on even the grey days of winter.
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