Credit: Liliana Rasmussen| IG: | Liliana Rasmussen, Industrial Designer, Artist, and Half of Lily and Papaya Duo
Affirm Noire| August 27, 2021
4 minutes

It appears mandates for vaccination are not the only thing people are forced to confront these days. Globally, people are being asked, whether directly or indirectly, to look further at their perception of gender. Generally, people learn that there are two genders, male and female. They are conditioned to believe that people assume roles and behave certain ways based on these genders. However, Creatives such as Liliana Rasmussen (she/they), are using social media to challenge the world to see gender-and their artistic focus women of color- differently.

Credit: Liliana Rasmussen| IG: | Liliana Rasmussen, Industrial Designer, Artist, and Half of Lily and Papaya Duo

"I want to exalt the beauty of women of color and of the women in my everyday life. I hope that women see themselves in my work, and I hope it helps them feel beautiful."

Liliana Rasmussen

"Titled Summer Growth, this piece I feel really represents a lot of my artwork," they said about their art, which they make with Procreate primarily from the comfort of their iPad basically wherever they please. "My work emphasizes feminine energy and agency and seeks to capture the beauty of women of color. To me, gaze is a really important factor in that," they continued. "I think this piece portrays a soft sense of independence, and shows a woman who knows her power. This piece is also special to me because it was a piece where I was experimenting with using different vibrant colors together, which is partly where the title comes from."

Credit: Liliana Rasmussen| IG: | Summer Growth

As a child, their parents exposed them to classic paintings on their family travels to museums. Eventually, they realized there was a misalignment regarding their perception of what it meant to be a woman in the world and with what seemed to be the 'normal' representation of women.

"I think subconsciously the way that women are portrayed in a majority of these paintings is in a really passive way where they lack agency and are often just adornments," they shared. " So in my artwork, it’s really important that I portray these women with strong gazes, where you can see there is a strong personality and inner world behind the eyes."

Liliana runs a social media account called from NYC. The account conveys pieces of women with gazes that are strong and empowering. Their own feminism and their work in reproductive rights are influential to them as an artist.

"It really opened my eyes to how much our agency and autonomy are constantly under attack," they said of the work they did involving reproductive rights in college. "It also showed me how infantilizing our society can be toward us."

The fight for visibility, acknowledgement, and access to resources men have access to due to privilege (amongst other factors not listed here) is still on for women around the world. However, up for the challenge, women are stepping forward, as they always have done. Women are defying restrictions placed on them and obstacles along their paths. They are uncompromising about what they want. Also, they are displaying what they want, whether it is via art or ensuring that their features and bodies are not up for debate with crusades such as the body positivity movement.

"Growing up half Asian also made me experience and perceive beauty standards in an interesting way. It was often pushed to me that Asian features
were less than white/European features. This is one of the reasons why I chose to primarily paint women of color," they explained. "I want to exalt the beauty of women of color and of the women in my everyday life. I hope that women see themselves in my work, and I hope it helps them feel beautiful."

And they are exploring healthier ways of expression and resilience. The popularization of the self-care phenomenon has created opportunity for women of color to confront the role it has within their own lives.

"Making art for me doesn’t consciously coincide with self-care, but it has always felt like hunger," they said. "If I don’t do it for a while, I’ll feel a strong need to. Art does often help me express my emotions or find release and peace. It’s also really fun and satisfying. Things I do for self care include going to parks, eating cake, and taking long showers."

It seems women often have to fight . Many struggle with prioritizing self-care.

"To be honest, I feel like I could be better at self care," Liliana said, "but if I had to give someone advice it would be to listen to your body. Especially with art, but it applies to anything really, when you try to force it or push yourself too hard, you won’t be happy with the result.
Rest when you need to and you’ll have a much better end result, and you’ll feel much better too."

Credit: Liliana Rasmussen| IG: | Liliana working on a piece of art

While women with strong gazes are currently Liliana's thing, the future is full of possibility.

"I’d like to have more shows and public art. I’d like to do more album art, and doing book covers would be cool too. It would be awesome if my art could help with storytelling or help with social justice campaigns. Mostly though, I just want to keep getting better at what I do."

In 2020, Liliana and their best friend, Maya, opened an online store called Lily and Papaya where they sell their art.

Connect with Liliana: 

Affirm Noire

This article was edited by the Affirm Noire Staff.

art, business + self-care fueled by 
bipoc gen zers + millennials on display
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