Student Spotlight: Chloe Muñoz empowers Black women through art

Senior studio art major Chloe Muñoz wants to be more active in Black representation and empowering Black women through her art. Christina Cannady | Photographer

Red Oak senior Chloe Muñoz, said she is excited to receive her bachelor’s degree in studio art, something that may have come as a surprise to freshman Muñoz. At first, Muñoz said she struggled with deciding if she wanted to go into art, coming to Baylor as a music major.

“At the time, I wanted to be a music educator and I played clarinet in high school,” Muñoz said. “During that first semester, I just kind of realized my passion for music wasn’t what I thought it was. I just knew I was going to burn out pretty quickly, and not succeed overall.”

Muñoz said she spoke with one of the professors in the art department about what it entailed to change her major and realized that it was not that difficult. So, she decided to go forward with it.

“Honestly, I think that’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made as a student. I just enjoy my time here at Baylor so much more as an art major,” Muñoz said.

Recently, Muñoz has shifted her art to include more Black representation, due in part to many race-related issues that took place in 2020.

“Over the past few years, I haven’t really been as active in terms of Black representation in my art,” Muñoz said. “2020 was kind of the catalyst for me making this transition in the art that I work on in class and for myself. I have always been kind of concerned about the issue of representation but I really never took the time to mitigate that issue myself, until recently.”

Muñoz said she recently finished a project for her lithology class that focuses on the frustrations she has experienced as a Black and Hispanic person over the past year.

“Just watching everything kind of build and feeling like you can’t do anything about it,” Muñoz said. “The print project was kind of my way of expressing the way it’s been affecting my mental health and what I see happening.”

Her latest work focuses heavily on portraying Black women in an empowered state.

“I’ve been planning on doing a new painting that elevates Black women,” Muñoz said. “The painting that I’m planning is kind of addressing stereotypes and turning them on their head, depicting Black women as regal and beautiful.”

Muñoz said she feels that it is almost expected of Black artists to focus their art on the struggling of Black people, but she wants to change that.

“There’s a lot of things that tie in, from generational traumas that go all the way back to slavery,” Muñoz said. “The Black story doesn’t start with slavery obviously, but it’s become such an important part of Black identity that things from that time period kind of still influence Black life today.”

Muñoz said she also wants to depict Black women as different historical troupes of powerful women throughout history.

“You think of the Greek and Roman goddesses and how they are portrayed as having all of this wisdom and being regal and powerful and victorious,” Muñoz said. “I want to take that from Western ideas and apply it to Black women, because it’s true. It’s not something just for white people or for this idea of Western greatness.”

McKinney junior Madison Martin, one of the models for Muñoz’s upcoming art pieces, said she agreed to model for Muñoz after a friend recommended her.

“I had modeled before for one of the studio art classes [at] Baylor and enjoyed seeing the atmosphere and seeing the work the artists would produce,” Martin said.

Martin said she thinks Muñoz transitioning her art to empower Black women is admirable.

“I think it’s inspirational to showcase Black women through art and highlight their strength through support, love and togetherness the Black community has for one another,” Martin said.

Muñoz’s transition into making art with a message stemmed from escaping years of trying to make art to please others, Muñoz said. In her classes, she said she used to try and model her work after other artists or choose something to please a professor or other students.

“I’ve spent the last three and a half years making art that I thought people would like … without really thinking, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’” Muñoz said. “So [I’m] shifting towards making things that I care about and the subject matter that I care about, things that I’m interested in, things that I like doing, and experimenting with different techniques.”

Muñoz said it’s important in her development as an artist that she constantly remembers to continue making art that she enjoys.

“There’s still progress that I can make,” Muñoz said. “You never really arrive at the ‘I’m an artist stage,’ it’s something that you keep working towards. You make art your whole life. I have a whole lifetime to keep trying new things, making things about subjects that I care about and people that I care about.”