Artist Spotlight: DONORMAAL
In the internet persona age where the cool black kids get 2000 likes on glossy tumblr pics of their Basquiat crown tattoo at AfroPunk Festival and white teenage girls have 60.5m followers with @kingwhateva as a handle name, few actually sport a crown. DoNormaal shows up to one of her many shows doing just that with the tall, shiny regalia atop her lavender box braids, a brown shearling coat and some fucked up Chuck Taylors. The crown was not a tiara, nor was it a subtlety. What was subtle was any sign of outward egoism from the bearer. DoNormaal sported the crown with the ease of someone born into a royal bloodline--a natural born king or queen, rather than with the desperation for recognition all too common from artists and millennials. After all, when you have been wearing an invisible crown of guiding light your whole life, the leap to bearing a physical one is small, though symbolic.
DoNormaal aka Christy to her homies, is aware of her invisible crown and has been since a child. She describes the phenomenon as simply always understanding that she had to try her best. As a child, that mentality often grasps for tangible goals and accomplishments--whether it be doing well in school, sports, pleasing your parents, or even rebellion. As we move further into adulthood and our capacities for growth and achievement expand, we realize that one interpretation of this inner desire to always improve might be called something like "God." Though many haters do not like to hear people (especially young people of color) call themselves a god or messiah (take, for example, the endless backlash Kanye West receives for his bravado), where is the blasphemy in recognizing a higher source within yourself and using it to guide your life and illuminate others? This power is what allows DoNormaal, who is a visual and auditory contradiction of regality and grunge, to command respect wherever she makes her presence.
How then does a young queen stay humble? Well, for starters there's the constant pimp hand of capitalism that slaps us all if we fail to live up to its expectations. Meaning, that in order to survive and thrive, DoNormaal works a physically strenuous job during the day and often finds herself too tired to create afterwards (sounds familiar, right?) and lacking in energy to devote to her projects. For this reason she loves the stage, "the songs are already written," she chuckles explaining her favorite thing to do. "I just try to do what I do in the mirror onstage," she elaborates. The decision to be the same behind closed doors as you are with bright lights on you leaves a performer incredibly vulnerable with all flaws and weaknesses on display. This vulnerability, this rawness is what DoNormaal is after with her craft and feels many artists are also gravitating toward in their own work.
The bravery and humility to step onstage over and over again despite the possibility of rejection comes from DoNormaal's acceptance of death. "You have to accept death in order to do anything," she preaches during a smoke session in her quiet, low-tone voice. Understanding the inevitability of your death and that it occurs to everyone without prejudice, makes the insecurities that ordinarily prevent you from acting bravely irrelevant. After all, there's no need to stroke or protect a dying ego. ~ ~ ~
Words: Amanya Maloba
Stylist: Janice Ibarra
Clothes: Moksha Seattle and Seamlessly Supernatural
Photographers: Benecia King and Chris Hill