Christian McKoy is “a black, queer, fat, femme artist.“. With each self descriptor, her power undeniably swells. When you are a unique individual, especially a Black, queer one, it takes guts to be who you are. In some cases, you don’t just deal with external pressure, critiques and questioning. Your single greatest task is eclipsing your own self, so that you can come into your full potential and be at peace with all that you are. Once you can acknowledge your essence, life is easier.
McKoy is behind the popular Instagram account 3rd_eyechakra, which in name, is a nod to Avatar: The Last Airbender. In practice, the 26-year-old Capricorn uses Photoshop cs6, Paint tool sai, PoserPro, and Cinema 4d to create altered versions of the Black female body. She opts to represent Black women, as they are often left out of pieces of fine art and depictions of angels. The artist blends the earthly with the divine, and has accumulated thousands of fans, including Kelela, Paris Hilton, and Jazzelle Zanaughtti.
Her work is influenced by space and Blackness. This school of thought is known as Afrofuturism. There are multiple creatives who have used the movement to make social and political statements, with a recent example being Janelle Monáe‘s Dirty Computer. I cannot recall my exact introduction to Afrofuturism, but I do know I religiously studied the music video for “Jump Up In the Air” by Erykah Badu and fell in love with blogs like hoodfuturism and sarahnicolefrancois. Tumblr was also how I found out about McKoy’s designs.
“It’s light years ahead of the Hotep wave, yet it’s rooted in the same unapologetic nationalism. It uses the history of Black people to advance mentally, physically and spiritually, all while entertaining. Rather than look to the past and stay there through, Afrofuturism looks to the (you guessed it) future to represent the feeling of “otherness” that has become intertwined with being Black. It takes bits from sci-fi, graphic novels, and the Space Age, to prophetically recreate the Black experience.” xx
At first, I didn’t know the widely accepted name for the fusion of space travel, Black folks, technology, fashion and entertainment. I just observed and respected it. But when I did the work and found a massive digital community of young people pushing the culture forward, including McKoy I realized that the hand of Afrofuturism was more present than I could have ever imagined.
Brooklyn White (BW): This year was pretty packed for you – you got recognition from Erykah Badu and worked with Next Century. What was the most exciting thing to happen to you in 2018?
Christian McKoy (CM): I really cherish every good thing that happens to me, but Kelela following me on Instagram and saying my art was important really completed a good year for me.
BW: A lot of people sadly believe that their work equals their value. How do you maintain a healthy relationship with work?
CM: Sometimes I do value my work with my self worth, so to combat that I just look at how far I’ve come since last year. If I’m doing/working on things that I wasn’t previously and I’ve grown as an artist, it really shows me that I’m evolving and shouldn’t tear myself down as an artist and person.
BW: In what way does Afrofuturism continue to inform your art?
CM: It really inspires everything I do. Showcasing [B]lack people in a fantasy setting really shouldn’t be as scarce as it is, so I want everyone to see how beautiful it is through my eyes.
Be your own cheerleader. Don’t look for validation from others, only yourself.
BW: Which musicians are you listening to these days?
BW: What is it like living in North Carolina?
CM: It’s very boring here, but I’ve lived here all my life. [S]o it’s boring, but it’s home.
BW: I’ve read that you’re an introverted, observant person. How do you use this to your advantage when many capitalize on being the complete opposite online?
CM: I want my art to speak for itself, so I try and keep my private life off of the web as much as possible. The internet is a form of escapism, so I want my art help facilitate that in a positive way.
BW: Which causes speak to you the most?
CM: I try to donate and share any trans girls’ GoFundMe I can find. A lot of my friends are Black trans women, so of course helping the community is one my goals in life.
BW: Do you still use Tumblr? Who are some of your favorite bloggers?
CM: I still use it from time to time and my favorites are:
BW: What is on your 2019 moodboard?
CM: Nothing but Y2K aesthetics and aliens!
BW: Lastly, what is your life philosophy?
CM: Be your own cheerleader. Don’t look for validation from others, only yourself.