Daniella Fishburne, 33, lives in Charleston, South Carolina. Originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. Daniella became interested in art as a young girl; when most girls her age were playing house, she was busy getting her hands dirty with pencil/charcoal drawings and clay figurine sculptures. Daniella’s dream was to be an illustrator/animator. As a young adult, she lost her passion for creating, so she never sought after a formal education. However, she fell in love with photography a few years ago after taking a basic Photoshop class. She felt that it opened up a whole new world of possibilities for her. After that, she began teaching herself advanced techniques for compositing images.
What motivated you to deal with the subject of violence against women in your art?
“I chose to deal with the subject of violence against women because it is something I have personally dealt with in my own life. When I was 16 years old, I was sexually assaulted by two guys who I thought were my friends. I trusted them, but they drugged me and took advantage of me. After that, I didn’t have much self-worth, so I allowed myself to date someone who was mentally and physically abusive. For years, the sadness consumed me and I later tried to take my own life. At age 18, I swallowed a bottle of pills and waited for life to slip away, but my mom found me and took me to the hospital. After having my stomach pumped and the nurse explaining to me what would have been a horrific way to die, I never tried that again. It took a long time for me to appreciate my life or to trust men again. Since then, I’ve come to realize that my life is not defined by what happened to me, but instead by what I do with it now.”
Tell us why you chose this submission?
“The day I created this image, I was so consumed by thoughts of the past and I felt like a dark cloud was following me around. More than a decade had passed since that day and it still haunted me. At the time, I was working on a 52 week self-portrait project and I was creating images based on my mood each week. Some were dreamy and hopeful, others dark and solemn. This piece was a huge step towards healing for me. It allowed me to open up and talk about what happened, which helped me let go of that pain. When I finally broke the silence and shared my story, I was overwhelmed with support, and with that came healing. I think it’s important for women to stand together and support each other. During that time in my life, I felt very alone and I think that was the worst part. There are so many of us that are abused every day and we often suffer in silence, but it shouldn’t be that way. So I ask you to break the silence and share your story. You never know who you might help heal in the process, including yourself.”
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
“I enjoy compositing images to create scenes that would not otherwise be possible. I tend to look at the world in a way that a camera alone cannot capture. I don’t have the talent to paint or the patience to draw, but I can sit for hours at my computer creating whatever my imagination desires. Plus there’s no mess to clean up afterwards. Bonus!”
What is your process when creating?
“It always starts with an idea or inspiration, which is usually followed by a rough sketch of the concept. I always keep a notebook with me to keep all of my ideas together. Once I gather all the props I need, I’ll set up and shoot the scene. After that, it can take many hours of sitting at my computer, manipulating and compositing images in Photoshop, until I have exactly what I envisioned.”
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
“I’m probably most influenced by artists who focus on surrealism or at least that’s what I’m most drawn to. As for inspiration, that can come from anything in my day-to-day life, from a phrase or emotion to a dream or a story. Inspiration is everywhere once you open yourself up to the possibilities.”
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
“I hadn’t really thought about it to be honest, but in terms of equal rights for women I suppose I am. Although, I don’t particularly care for labels.”
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
“I came across your call for artist on Facebook and was really inspired by your mission statement.”
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
“I think it’s more difficult for women who don’t fit into that neat little box that society has placed on us. If we don’t conform to social norms then we are scrutinized more so than men. For example, I have decided not to have children. I am completely content with my life just the way it is, but when I mention my choice, I often get a look of shock or disappointment. Which is usually followed by comments like, “You don’t know what you’re missing, life is more fulfilling with children” or “You don’t know what love is until you have a child.” Maybe that’s true, but I shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for my choice. I understand that it’s not “normal” (according to society) for a woman to not want to reproduce, but she shouldn’t be questioned for her decision. I am no less a woman for not having children, just like a man is no less a man for making that same choice.”
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
“No, I don’t. I think there has been a lot of progress towards equality around the world, but there are still some countries that treat women more like possessions instead of human beings.”
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
Doors to Freedom, which is a local organization that helps victims of human trafficking, rebuild their lives.
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
“Sometimes just knowing you are not alone can make a big difference in your outlook on life. I hope that sharing my story through imagery will inspire others to share their own story and begin a chain of healing.”
What are your goals as with your art?
“My work is about finding beauty in darkness and seeing the light when there is none. With these images, I hope to inspire, uplift, and evoke emotion. I want you to linger in the worlds I create, until a passion is ignited—leaving you believing in the impossible.”
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
“Art saved my life because it gave me the chance to heal. It gave a voice to emotions that can be difficult to express and allowed me to open up about my struggles.”
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
“I hope to start a new series soon called, “The Truth behind the Fairy Tale.” I’m still working on the details, but the idea is to portray the original stories that we all know before they were sugar coated and transformed into animated movies. I grew up watching Disney movies like most women my age, but the original stories are often much more gruesome and dark than what was portrayed. I want to uncover the truth.”
And is there anything you would like to add to your interview?
“Healing begins with letting go and that can’t happen until you let it all out. Don’t ever be ashamed of your story, it just might inspire someone.”