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Meet Andrea Mckenzie of Andrea Unique Art in SW Atlanta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Mckenzie.

Andrea, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was born and raised in one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, Trinidad and Tobago. My family legacy and Carnival is my foundation. I come from a lineage of creatives, from visual artists, jewelry makers, costume designers. My late grandmother was a natural born visual artist and pianist. From an early age, I started drawing and learned how to build costumes, but it has always been my personal hobby upon obtaining my marketing Degree and working a series of Traditional Jobs. A part of me always felt empty and unfulfilled. I was completely lost. I felt like I was drowning in my very existence, succumbing to life’s pressures.

At that moment, I looked deep within myself to rediscover who I am and commit to the legacy I want to create for my future. I decided to stay true to my life’s purpose whilst being resilient to my artistry. Although I was fearful of the unknown, I put my trust in God because I knew my gift came from him, and he would provide a way. Eventually, I realized Trinidad was too small for my ambitions. I needed to expand my horizons. Leaving my place of birth wasn’t easy to walk away from the only home that Ive ever known, but I knew that everything I ever wanted was on the other side of fear. I chose Atlanta because it is the number one destination for creatives and black women entrepreneurship.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I came to Atlanta with one suitcase and a Dream, not knowing many people or the city. Which was a challenge within itself, I went from being known in my Country to not known at all. But I had a plan, did my research and got dressed every day to hit the streets looking for opportunities while working on my signature style. In the beginning, it was hard signing up for shows and not getting chosen, every day wasn’t perfect, I kept holding unto the scripture “Faith without Works is dead” Jeremiah 2:14-26 and eventually, my hard work started to pay off.

I was honored with the “Black I am Power, Art and Creativity Award” in Atlanta 2019. Then I got chosen to do a dual Exhibition which showed for three months in the Mayor’s Gallery at City Hall Atlanta alongside Ghanian Artist Alfred Addo. Upon receiving that opportunity, I created a mixed media Portrait Piece for The Mayor of Atlanta, Mrs. Keisha Lance Bottoms. Also getting my very own exclusive interview on “One Atlanta Storyboard” with the City of Atlanta’s Chief Content Officer Keith Whitney. BET selected me to showcase my artwork at the Lena Waithe” s Twenties Screening Premiere event in Atlanta.

I’ve learned the importance of sacrificing short-term pleasures for long- term happiness. Life is a long game and when I started my Journey I new it took dedication and faith. Also working on days I don’t feel like it. I’m talking code red, 18 hours a day dedicated even at the mercy of things I’ve enjoyed.

Please tell us about your work.
I am an Award winning Mixed media Artist, entrepreneur and mentor. My signature style sets me apart as I use a range of different materials from paint, feathers, crushed glass, cowrie shells, anything that is fitting to achieve my desired vision at that time and my ability to evoke emotion from collectors. I must always incorporate my roots, as all my creations have a piece of me embedded in my art form, which is unique and innovative. I am proud of myself never giving up even in the face of adversity, always staying authentic, keeping my integrity, and most importantly, my culture, which shaped me into who I am.

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