Diamond Stingily is an artist and writer working in Brooklyn, NY. We escaped the storm and visited her in her Brooklyn apartment to learn more about her past and present projects. Her work exploits important contemporary social issues through honest and poignant poetic gestures. She masters this in both her visual artwork and writing. It's equally relatable and powerful. We are excited to hear that she has some solo shows coming up next year, and she is hosting a radio show on Know Wave, airing Friday January 13th.
What are you working on now?
I just got done working on a video clip of my mother walking, and that is going to be at the James Fuentes Gallery in Manhattan.
What is the video about?
My mom walking. I recorded her while I was in Chicago, and I wanted to get her walking because she has a distinct walk. She has Lupus. I watched her transformation. I can hear it because one of her leg drags. The other is a hammer.
At the time, I was thinking about women - especially black women - and how we go through so much everyday. Everyday there is something we have to deal with, and we still get up and walk.I have hard days when I don't want to get up out of bed, but I have to make money and wash my face. I think my mother walking is very symbolic. Its her walk, and it's a strong walk. She hasn't given up. She is walking.
Have you made other videos?
I made a video with my friend Siera Hyte for a show at Holiday Forever Gallery in Wyoming. It was about how movies make sexual harassment sexy. I’m ,also, working on a podcast.
What podcasts do you listen to?
It's so basic. Radiolab (I haven't listened to that one in a while.) Sometimes I listen to The Read. In The Read, the hosts Kid Fury and Crissle talk about entertainment and what is going on in the world. They cover a lot of Black entertainment.
I was thinking about having my own podcast show. I believe in manifesting to an extent. I thought, "I really want a podcast”, and now it's happening. The first show is “For True” at Playground Coffee Shop in Bedstuy. It’s live but will be archived on Know Wave Radio. I was on Kayla Guthrie’s show on Know Wave and Paul, one of the sound engineers, contacted me.
Are you going to invite guests on it?
You know I am, girl! I've always wanted to do something like this, and it's coming together in its own way. We will see what happens. It is airing on the 13th.
What's the first episode about?
I want there to be music, readings, and sound pieces. I want to have more people of color involved. I want a show that showcases weird shit and people talk about their experiences.
It's hard as a creative person to get your work out there. People don't know how to do it. I know growing up I looked up to this one girl who is a writer. I was curious to see how she was doing it, and I asked her for advice, but she didn't help me.
Sometimes artists get competitive instead of trying to help each other. People feel the need to get ahead of each other. I'm in a position right now where I can help people out a little in my own way. I can help my friends. You can help yourself if you help others.
Can you talk about your show at Queer Thoughts and your use of hair braids?
The hair braids are representative of black hair. Hair is a topic that plays a large part in everyone's life. I think about America's Next Top Model and how every season Tyra Bank gets some girl from the country (with beautiful hair) and shaves it off. “We are going to give you a pixie cut.” and the girl freaks out. People put a lot of time and money into their hair. It becomes a part of your schedule. Its also about snakes and alludes to Medusa. It was a lot of ideas put into my braids.
Is it true that you had one of your diaries published?
Yes, through Martine Syms. She has a press. Two (or three) years ago, she published my first diary. And we titled it Love, Diamond because I finished off each entry with 'Love, Diamond.'
How did that happen? Did you just stumble upon an old diary one day?
I saved most of my childhood diaries. Now that I am older I cringe at the thought of someone finding my current journal, and I throw them away now. Sometimes I rip out the entry after I’m done writing, so I can get what I need to get off my chest and move on. In this is one, I am 8-9 years old. I put a couple of the entries on Facebook (when I still had Facebook).
What were some of the entries about?
I noticed one of the things I talk about is watching a movie for the fourth time because I don’t understand it. I am still like that “ I will figure it out. “
At one point, I am watching I Still Know What You Did Last Summer with my brother and we are trying to figure out who the killer is and I write, “It’s the white boy!"
I talked about how I was jealous of my older brother. I felt like he got all the attention (which isn't necessarily true), but it was how I felt at the time.
It shows I was sensitive too. I was happy that Martine found it interesting enough that she wanted to publish it. How many little black girl diaries are out and about? I like the reaction I get from people when I read it outloud. Maybe they can see a little of themselves from growing up? My grandma gave me that journal. She was one of the first people who encouraged me to write. It shows me I had people who believed in me before I even knew it.
What other writing are you working on?
I'm working on a zine series called Idella. The first one is coming out with Tamara Santibanez’s ,Discipline Press. In the zine, I write a letter to my Auntie Idella - she has been dead for a few years now.
Do you have specific things you want to say to her?
Right now I want to discuss forgiveness but that topic might change. I’ll see when I write the letter to her.
What are you reading right now?
I read Between the World and Me again by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Dark Pools by Hannah Black.And as far as fiction goes, I re read The Maids by Jean Genet. My friend, Brook,gave me Zora Neale Hurston ,I Love Myself When I Am Laughing...and Then Again When I Am Looking Mean and Impressive.
What are you listening to right now?
Dorothy Ashby. She was a harpist and came out with a lot of great albums. The one I have been listening to on repeat is Afro-Harping.