Lisa Whittington lives in Georgia but is a progeny of Harlem, NY. New York instilled in her a rich sense of art, culture, experience, and drive and taught her to dream and hustle to make her desires a reality. Never give up. Never back down.
Growing up in poverty, she learned firsthand how to use whatever she had. Tenacity was a daily meal. Curiosity quenched her thirst and observation to Lisa was always like breathing. High up on the rooftop where she would walk her dog or the windows of the 6thfloor tenement or even the fire escapes Lisa’s eyes would often scan the city as far as she could see. An intuitive and perceptive child, she could always feel the vibrations of the city and the people that made her soul dance.
New York City, the greatest city in the world. Wherever she goes, she never forgets what New York taught her and always pays homage to the city she loves; the city that sculpted and formed her character.
Growing up, the music her mother played was always soulful and played a part in her love and appreciation for sound. She could hear the stories and observed how music could change a vibe and bring out the soul of people in the environment.
She was present at the birth of Hip Hop and benefited from its takeover. The beats and rhythms aided her expression and began to fill the spaces where she needed expression. As an artist those rhythm and beats would later find their way onto her canvas. Her painting “Under A Soprano Sky” is full of the rhythms of A Tribe Called Quest. She listens to hip hop and house music on repeat to find the groove for her work and until it is complete.
While riding the subway as a youth, she observed the expressions of people on the train. She met humanity on their faces and wondered if they could see hers. Street art was her first museum experience. Colorful and cryptic graffiti intrigued her. She would sometimes ride the train and walk around the city looking for interesting graffiti.
She had a front row seat to the work of Keith Harings chalk drawings in the subway as she rode from Far Rockaway High School to her foster home accomodations in Bedford Stuyvessant Brooklyn. His work made her heart dance. She always scanned the subway walls while sitting on a moving train looking for his marks.
Lisa lived in a tenement home full of conflict and trials. She often spent time looking out of the window at the busy city streets. This was her escape when she wasn’t at school. If she wasn’t looking out the window, she would be in a lonely corner somewhere writing or looking at a book. Reading took her places and fed her curiosity. She would often find books that would also teach her about art and how to make things then she would make art out of anything she could find.
Her teachers nourished her talent and fed her curiosities with field trips and added creative assignments to her work. They planted a seed for the artist she would become.
Far Rockaway High School recognized that Lisa was a Renaissance child and placed her in a Humanities Arts program where her curiosities and skills began to bud and thrive and she started to make connections between art and society. Her teachers took her to operas, symphonies, museums, and Broadway shows and they critiqued movies and books in class with intellectual discussion that stimulated her. Recognized for her potential, she received a full 5 year scholarship to CW Post College/Long Island University through a program called HEOP that nurtured and fostered the academic potential in Black and Latino from troubled environments.
Lisa moved to Atlanta and worked as an art educator. She wanted to be like her teachers and help students to push through life by observing and creating. Teaching art has always been just as important to Lisa Whittington as the process of making art. She continued her studies in art and education and received her Masters in Art education at the University of West Georgia, and her Doctorate in Art Education at the University of Georgia and wrote a dissertation dear to her heart that uncovered issues in public schools and would teach people how to prepare teachers to teach art in urban environments with Black and Latino students.