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“I am an artist. I can paint,” she said during her kindergarten speech, which helped to motivate her to create art.
Today, her artwork is featured in the 2020 African American Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide. Humphrey, a professor in the Department of Education and Child Development, displays her art under the pen name Amina AmXn.
“Amina in Arabic has a meaning of honorable, trustworthy, and dependable,” said Humphrey. “AmXn is a black feminist derivative of the hymn or prayer Amen, which means so it is, so be it. My pen name is an identity/paradigm shift with a focus on a life infused with art, and so it is, so be it.”
“I’m inspired by the vibrant and colorful cultures of Africa, the beautiful people and places of the African Diaspora, and by nature and growing up in solitude on a farm in southwest Arkansas,” said Humphrey.
Despite facing criticism, Humphrey has seen herself as an artist her whole life. She was told that being an artist wasn’t a “practical career for a Black woman from the agrarian South” and was advised to take on professions that were deemed reliable income. But that didn’t stop her from following her passions and describes herself “a quilter, painter, photographer, mosaic-artist, and seamstress/designer for the Lizzo's/plus-sizes of the world.”
One of Humphrey’s favorite books is Everyday Use by Alice Walker, which highlights working class views versus elitist views about quilts/arts, and continues to have an impact on her.
“I have taken my power back. I have developed a well-informed consciousness about this world and my place in it. Thus Amina AmXn, I have been born again,” she said. “Joyfully, I have returned to my 5-year-old self, and I have been seriously making art for the last seven years.”
Humphrey brings her love of art to her role as a professor.
“I love teaching, and I love the arts,” she said. “It’s magic when the two intersect to highlight my passion and purpose.”
Her goal in life is to “preserve the folk art tradition of hand- quilting and to learn from the masters such as the Black women quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, the Amish, and Hawaiian quilters.” She wants to share her passion with children, in particular to those in South Central Los Angeles who are at risk of losing the art of quilting by hand.
“I also want to make the arts more accessible to students in urban and rural settings, particularly from the framework in challenging apartheid schooling and apartheid curricula in rural and urban environments,” said Humphrey. “I want the children in my beloved South Central Los Angeles community and all children across America to have daily exposure to the arts in school, after school, and during the summer. I want all schools to have a staff of art teachers dedicated to teaching music, visual, and performing arts.”