Ciara LeRoy


Cincinnati, OH

Some folks know me as “Pretty Strange.” I also answer to “C”, “CeeCee” or “Does anyone want a slice of cake?” I *mostly* make art with words, using them to convey messages that range from mundane and humorous to deeply emotional and complex.

“Does anyone want a slice of cake?”

Any person who really helped you in your awesome artistic journey?

Willis “Bing” Davis. Bing Davis is a celebrated mixed media artist and activist in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. One of my core memories from childhood is my dad taking me to Davis’s studio. It was so impactful to witness a Black person working as a successful artist in this huge, beautiful downtown studio space. Bing sent me home with a box of his oil pastels — the first “grown up” art supply I had ever been given. I STILL have that little box of pastels.

Listen to music while you work? Anything special in your work space that unleashes your creative juices?

Some of the more special bits of inspiration in my home are my favorite childhood toys and crafts. I have several original Polly Pocket sets, Toy Story figurines, pipe cleaner creations and other random bits of ‘90s era pop culture scattered around my home.

Where do your best ideas come from? (dreams, shower, museum, train?)

My best ideas come when I untangle my brain from expectations and the word “should.”

What was your favorite thing to draw as a child? Why did that lodge in your head?

I LOVED reading newspaper comics as a kid. At some point, I decided to create my own, and it was called “Darren the Dashingly Daring Dingo!” It was about a superhero dingo named Darren, and he was handsome. That’s all I remember.

Did you have a magic moment when you knew you wanted art to be your life?

For the first year and a half of my undergraduate studies, I was a biochemistry major on the premed track. Turns out, studying math and science all the time, and having zero time to be artistic, was extremely soul-sucking. I switched my course of study to journalism and studio art. The moment that really sealed my fate in the direction of art was the conversation with my biochem advisor. At one point he said, “You’re just doing what’s easy. Science is hard. Art is easy.” I just left his office
determined to prove him wrong, and I think I’ve succeeded.