Patricia Andrews-Keenan, founder and CEO of Pigment International, can be seen in the skies of Chicago as she continues to make history this spring. As part of HERstory month, recognized during March, Andrews-Keenan, was honored by OUTFRONT Media as part of their billboard campaign, Lifted Up, as they shine light to women leaders paving ways in history. She was also highlighted for her outstanding work and commitment to leading our future generation of women. Running a Black female-led multimedia arts program that helps promote Black art, innovation and curation, it’s safe to say that Andrews-Keenan isn’t stopping there.
Andrews-Keenan discusses how young people can better understand culture, although she’s noticed that young people evolve aspects of it and have even given her a new way of thinking. That you should keep in mind to go back in history and learn about things that you didn’t know because it’s helpful. “Take the next step.”
As a Black woman in the industry, there are struggles you face, especially seeing that some of the biggest challenges, was working with men, Andrews-Keenan says. In order to move forward from this obstacle, she started a team of mostly women. “Always remember what you are capable of and nobody can change that about you.”
Can you describe the moment you found out you were being featured/included in the Lifted Up campaign and what this means moving forward in your career?
Wow. So, I found out in the middle of February, about the recognition, because obviously you have to send those things like send pictures and bios and things to get ready for it. And I didn’t think too much about it, then on the 1st [of March], [Felicia Jackson, account executive for OUTFRONT MEDIA,] sent the information with the video legs, the website links, some of the billboards that were going to be shown around the country, a video they had done, and it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is very special.’ There were three people in Chicago being recognized and I know the other two women, Delmarie Cobb and Malika Jackson. So, to be in that company, it just made it really special, so I was pretty excited.
What do you think this means moving forward with your career now that you are being recognized?
Well, for the organization that we created, I’m talking to you, so that’s one sign – people are interested in that story. So, I appreciate that. But to continue to talk about Black art in its place in the culture and be able to be exposed to more of that, to expose our team so we can expose others. That’s the important thing for me. We plan the really aggressive year for the organization. We’re going to Venice, for the Biennale Arte 2022 in April and three of us are calling in to bring back these stories. This recognition, hopefully someone will see it and say,’Wow, I can get behind that-I can support them. I can make a donation. I can buy a magazine.’ So, for someone to be able to see what we’ve been producing, and the value of it, I think it was the most important thing.
Congratulations on everything. So, what drives you to fulfill your passion for your work here at Pigment International?
When I [think] about it, I have a lot of skills that I’ve accumulated over a lot of years and kind of like the path you’re on. When I was young, I was involved in things that have to do with reading, with writing, with the yearbook staff, with newspaper staff and then my corporate career revolved around communication. So, you always look for that thing that lets you fully be you; that uses all the skills you have. And that’s where the passion for pigment [came about.] I’ve taken all those skills and applied it to something that I really loved, and that was Black art. [It] was very motivating for me.
What would you most like to be remembered for ?
I talk a lot about legacy to people as well. Even when I talk to artists I ask them, ‘What do you want your legacy to be?’ So, for me, my legacy would be, how did we expose people to new ideas about Black art and culture? Do we entertain them? Do we show with these stories that we tell that we help artists by telling their stories, that we put something beautiful into the world?
What opportunities would you like to introduce to future female leaders?
I’m always looking for young people that want to come in, that want to write, that are interested in creative things, that are photographers, that are designers — so I want to help those folks or get them involved in what we do because I think they have a good perspective. A different perspective.
You spoke on Black artists getting more exposure, so how can Black artists become more involved in the world of art and get noticed?
So, one thing I noticed about Chicago is that this community, good communities of artists come together. People can uplift each other. For instance, we wrote about a group called Culture Museum, and that’s a collective of artists. They help publicize each other. It’s always about community, so I think artists should find their community , and the community will work with each other. So, when you’re an artist, a lot of what you do, just like with writers, you do by yourself. But you have to remember to come out once you’ve done the work. Come out and plug into the community and they will help lift you up and of course tell stories. That’s what we want to do, tell stories. We try to observe and write about these things that we see happen in the community.
What is your most memorable accomplishment? How did you get there?
I think it has to be the creation of this organization. The kind [that comes] from zero, and now we’re in our fourth year of operation. To see it now take wing, and much like you I had a great idea. Why don’t people see how great this idea is and help me? That doesn’t mean you don’t do that [idea]. Then somebody says, ‘Hmm, that was nice.’ Then somebody tells somebody and they somebody and they tell somebody, and things [succeed.] I don’t think there’s any such thing as overnight [success], but it helps and it builds. It’s good seeing this come from nothing to this, and we’ll see where it goes.
This article has been edited for clarification.