Tenesha Abernethy “Tweety”
M.Ed., Special Education
I have been drawing since I was 5 years old. I can remember being in my bedroom as a little girl and drawing people, families, homes, and neighborhoods for hours on end and simply loving every minute of it. I remember losing track of time and completely throwing myself into creating.
In grade school, my favorite classes were my art classes and the only clubs I really ever wanted to be involved in were always art related. After high school, I studied at Sampson Community College and took art classes there. My instructor encouraged me to pursue a career as an artist, but I chose special education as my career path. I went on to attend the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, to study to become a special education teacher. There I decided to concentrate in the Visual Arts. Unfortunately, I did not have as many good experiences and can remember one professor telling me, in front of other art students, that my art was not good at all. I was crushed to say the least. After graduating with a B.A. degree in Special Education, I focused on my teaching career and stopped painting.
My art was dormant for 15 years.
Then, I met my husband. There was a new joy and love that made me feel I was good at anything I set my mind to. My husband (then boyfriend) encouraged me to draw again and to paint again. One day I picked up a sharpie and drew a face on the walls of his “man cave”. I kept drawing all over the walls and painting murals. Finally...“Freedom!” Freedom to be that 5 year old girl again!
Suddenly, an “Awakening” happened. I saw her, an image on an album cover that moved me. I felt motivated to attempt to paint her. This would be my first portrait ever to be completed without the help of my art teachers. I felt as if my soul had awakened after a long sleep. I was surprised and over the moon with joy when the piece was completed. I was then hooked and wanted to paint more portraits.
So, I asked my cousins, Idalis and Daniel, if I could paint them in their native regalias.
As I painted them and listened to music, I felt my soul sing, my body move to the music, and God guiding my brush strokes in a way I have never felt before.
This is what inspired me to create Tabernethy Dance and Design.
I enjoy sharing this experience with others and want my students to feel free to move and create!
Our Tribe Project evolved from the birth of my son and the fact that it does take a tribe to raise a child. Then I thought, we should be one tribe with one concept and that is to love our children and to love the women that raise them.
This project, I believe, is a God-led project. Meaning I know without a doubt that God has blessed me with this gift to paint and create art and to use it as a tool to reach others and to touch lives in a positive way. The goal of Our Tribe Project is to create original works of art, to express art in different ways, and to donate 10% of the proceeds from art purchases and class participation, to organizations that help women and children that are facing poverty around the world. I want to be a part of what makes this world better by helping mothers feed, clothe, and shelter their children. My long range goal is to one day be in a position to offer financial assistance for women and children to pursue their hopes and dreams of obtaining a college education.
I am fortunate to have been raised by two tribes, Coharie and Waccamaw Siouan, both of North Carolina. Growing up, I attended Pow Wows and I still attend when I can. As a youth, I created Native inspired jewelry and sold them at several Pow Wows. My heritage continues to inspire a lot of my art. I enjoy drawing inspiration from my beautiful culture.