D'Mya Sanford

Artful Activism

Student leader hosts art sales for charities

By Jodi Werner Greenwald with Matt Olin | Photos by Ray Sepesy

D’Mya Sanford, a senior at Ardrey Kell High School and founder and president of Art For Unity Charlotte, www.a4uc.org, holds art sales and silent auctions as peaceful means to make societal change. The committee-led group consists of 17 artists, including other Ardrey Kell students as well as college and professional artists. Their first sale, in August 2016, benefited victims of the Pulse nightclub tragedy. The most recent sale, held this past December at The Ballantyne, brought awareness to mental health issues and benefited NAMI-Charlotte. Responses were edited for brevity.

What do you enjoy about the business side of art sales?
I enjoy watching people try to outbid each other. It is a great confidence booster for the artist to see that people really want to purchase their work and great for me because I know that something I did has helped boost the confidence and self-esteem of someone else.

What are your future plans?
Next year I will be in college, but I’m not sure which school yet. I intend to major in business with a medical and IT (information technology) focus so that someday I can run a business that helps people in their everyday lives.

No career in art?
Art will always be my No. 1 choice of expression, but relying solely on creative visual art as my primary source of income will eventually take the joy out of it. Business is an art within itself, much like anything that requires careful thought and planning, so I’d rather base my career on incorporating art into whatever I’m working on rather than exhausting my creative abilities.

What inspires your art?
I always create art based on music I relate to. Recently, my pieces have been inspired by new albums released by hardcore and alternative bands like Movements, Counterparts and Paramore.

What are your other creative outlets?
I enjoy writing, singing and coding. Coding is not usually seen as a creative outlet; however, I’m fascinated by how you can use code to create whatever you want in technology, much like a paintbrush on a canvas.

What advice do you give teens looking to make a difference?
Be intelligently impatient. Don’t be too reactive to the point where you’re prepared to fight and act on everything you hear, but at the same time, (don’t be) so complacent that you never act on an issue that truly bothers you.