LAKE CITY, S.C. – Lush, leafy collard greens are a signature feature of Natalie Daise paintings. The greens are symbolic on multiple levels, including serving as a reminder to Daise of her Gullah heritage.
“They connect me to my heritage and my family of origin in a humble and meaningful way,” Daise said. “They nurture and bloom and are part of family and community gathering, and my father and grandmother always grew them.”
While collards are often depicted in Daise’s paintings, the leafy vegetables point attention to a story and meaning beyond their inherent beauty. “Free Your Mind – Remix,” Daise’s 2019 ArtFields piece, speaks to religion, blackness and mental health, she said.
“Admitting to mental health challenges has often been seen as weakness, and there is little room for that in the strong black woman archetype,” Daise said in her artist statement. “I found myself caught in my own duality – between faith and fact, religiosity and psychology.”
Daise said the piece is personal, but she hopes others connect with it as well.
“This painting reflects my vision of mental freedom – what it might actually feel and look like to free my mind,” Daise said. “It's a personal piece, but I believe others can connect with it.”
Daise said she loves how gold leaf and metal in her painting convey the value she places on the main figure. She also works with acrylics. Yet, even though she likes the control she has with the medium, it was a challenging journey to the final “Free Your Mind – Remix” painting, Daise said.
“My first attempt is still in my studio, and I am revisiting it now,” Daise said.
Daise is a self-taught artist. From kindergarten crayons and watercolor palettes to a fourth-time ArtFields exhibition artist, Daise has developed her technique and storytelling expertise.
“ArtFields is an excellent platform for artists to share their work,” Daise said. “I am honored to be included.”
Frequent ArtFields visitors might recognize Daise’s work without the aid of a placard, and for those who are unfamiliar with her artwork, Natalie Daise might still be a familiar name. Daise and her husband, Ron, starred in “Gullah, Gullah Island,” a Nick Jr. television show. Being known as a storyteller is a consistent theme in Daise’s professions.