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Courtney Minor: Expressing Emotion Through Art

Photo courtesy of Courtney Minor

As far back as New York-based visual artist Courtney Minor can remember, she has always been a creative person. While she may not have always expressed it through typical art forms throughout the years, her creative passions could not be kept at bay for long. In 2019, Minor began creating mixed media collages, and what started as just a fun project has since blossomed into a successful career as a visual artist.


“I’ve always been into art, design and anything creative,” Minor said. “I did a lot more of it when I was a child. So, when I was in elementary school and middle school, I used to get lots of different art awards and my art teacher would always put me up for different programs and stuff like that. But then by the time I hit high school, I just stopped making and creating anything.”


After moving away from art creation as a teen, Minor continued other pursuits throughout her adult life. That is, until the purchase of a simple item—a new iPhone—renewed her passion for art.


“I stopped creating and I didn’t make anything that you would consider a visual art until about three and a half to four years ago,” Minor said. “I got the new Apple iPhone, and it had the updated camera, and it was such a good camera that on my travels (I love to travel all over the world), I started taking photographs because I got feedback from my family. They were like ‘you’ve been to so many different countries and we don’t see anything!’ so I was like ‘okay I’ll start taking some photos; I have an updated camera [now].’”


This simple family request to take more photographs was the spark that Minor’s creativity needed.


“I took a photograph of myself, and I kept thinking ‘wow I want to turn this into something,’” Minor said. “That ‘turn it into something’ became a collage, which became my first collage portrait, which became my first collage painting. That was around the beginning of 2019, and after that I started creating and I haven’t stopped since.”


Since early 2019, Minor has fully delved into the art world, experimenting with different types of art.

“I do mostly mixed-media collage on different surfaces,” Minor said. “I use canvas paper most often, and I put it on a stretched wood frame, but it’s more canvas paper rather than a true canvas. I find it easier to work with for the kind of collages I do.”


Once she has her initial canvas ready, Minor then gets to work layering on other materials.


“I use all kinds of media, I mean, anything I can get my hands on,” Minor said. “Sometimes I sew into my work. I often glue a lot of my work, some Mod Podge and other adhesives, wood adhesives. I take all my own photography. Then, ironically [my videos] started out with making reels and videos for social media, and then people kept commenting on how much they liked my little ‘miniature films,’ so that’s why I ended up putting it on my art website because [people] were like ‘it’s art in itself.’”


Over time Minor has expanded her mediums and is looking forward to trying out more new materials in the near future.


“I have evolved and now I am working on true, real canvas as well as wood and metal, and as of next month, I am going to be stepping into creating sculptures,” Minor said. “I can’t wait to show the world that. It’s going to be a mixed media collage but it’s a sculpture. I’ve been saying how I want to make my collages more three-dimensional, and I think this is the way I can do it.”


When creating her artwork, Minor often finds the most inspiration in those who are closest to her.


“I’m often inspired by my friends and family; they’re often the subjects of many of my works,” Minor said. “[Sometimes] I do pick people at random that I meet in my daily life or when I’m traveling. My one rule is, I try my best not to pick people who are aspiring or are currently models. That’s not who I want. I want what I call ‘real people,’ because I feel like I get more real, raw emotion out of that.”


Minor also finds inspiration for her work through connecting with people during her travels.


“For my new works, the ones I’ll be working on when I go to Mexico later this year, I’ll definitely be focusing on people who are indigenous to the country that I’m visiting as I make my collage work,” Minor said.


Minor’s art pieces focus on portraying certain emotions that relate to the subjects of her pieces.


“In my ‘Families’ series, the theme there is love and joy, happiness, specifically filial love, as well as romantic love between partners,” Minor said. “My ‘Blues’ series, the one that you’ve probably seen most on social media [recently], that one is focused on art therapy and grief, because I lost several members of my family in 2021, and that series was focused on how all of us including myself processed that grief and turned it into something that was beautiful.”


While family provides an intense emotional connection for Minor, she also looks to the outside world when creating her art.


“My other work, depending on the emotion, can be related to a world event that has touched me, or just an emotion that I want to manifest, something that I’m not feeling at the moment, and I want to,” Minor said. “So, you’ll see that sometimes my paintings can be chaotic or all over the place, some of them are very minimalist or minimal in many ways, and that’s because I’m really contemplating a specific emotion or a feeling. But it’s always emotions that are the core themes of my work.”


Minor has also recently ventured into the world of NFTs.


“I would make little videos of my artwork, so I was posting them on social media,” Minor said. “I would often make a video, a little almost gif-like movie reel, 10 seconds here, 30 seconds there, of the painting that I would have just completed. I combined a painting with a behind-the-scenes of me working on the painting or close ups of the image, and I would also layer them with different layers in Photoshop so that they would have different effects. Then, I would add music; I typically buy royalty free music. So, I was doing that already and then I realized ‘oh well this NFT thing is basically me just minting things I already have.’ When I was researching it, the ones where the items moved a little bit, the ones that weren’t a static image, got a little more attention than, say, a static NFT image, and so that’s when I started minting the videos of the artwork that I did, because I made them anyways; I always made them. I realized this could be another source of people viewing my art and viewing another aspect of me, which is the NFT creation, the video creation that I do.”


For the month of February, Saatchi Art has chosen Minor as one of 15 artists that they are creating for an online exhibition called “Black Assemblage and Collage Artists to Note” in honor of Black History Month. Additionally, one of Minor’s paintings was chosen by The William Vale hotel in Brooklyn, New York to be part of a special exhibition on a digital display of rotating art in their lobby. In March, Minor will be showing one of her paintings, entitled “Sheila Memaw,” which is part of her “Blues” series at the Kente Royal Gallery in honor of Women’s History Month. In April and May, Minor will be attending art fairs in both Chicago and Dallas. After a well-deserved summer break, this fall, Minor will then be part of an artist residency in Pueblo, Mexico with Aquetopia, working on her new series, “The Others.”


For more information about Minor and her art, please visit