Alumni Captivates with SMILE and Courage

Graphic Design student painting

Courage is a word that comes up often when talking to Tranisha Herrington. Tranisha, or Triggy, as she prefers, isn’t afraid of facing a challenge. And she thinks a positive outlook makes those challenges that much easier to conquer, “I think the courage to get up despite what life has thrown you is seeing life through rose-colored glasses in the best way possible. In fact, when it’s time for me to get new prescription glasses, they will be rose-tinted as a reminder to always see life as such.”

What this Siba graduate does see all around her are stories of bravery. From her own experience of taking the leap from corporate America into the life of a working artist, to the experiences of the African American women she profiles in her work, Triggy lives and breathes courage. Now, with an upcoming exhibit at St. Louis Lambert Airport, people are starting to take notice.

Triggy first realized her artistic ability at Siba while taking Perspective Drawing. Prior to taking that class, she describes herself as having had “tunnel vision” for the fashion industry. While in that drawing class, however, her instructor (and working artist), William LaChance, encouraged his students to pursue an artistic style that spoke to them. For Triggy that was pop art – and it was a revelation.

From that inspirational experience, Triggy began to form her artistic vision. The stippling effect of pop art appealed to her because she liked that the smaller dots worked together to contribute to a bigger vision. She was so inspired that she quit her 9-5 job to pursue her dreams. We spoke to Triggy at the outset of this brave, new adventure in 2016. “Life inspires me. Everyone has a story to tell, so I have lifetimes of material. I just need to keep up my courage to pursue it.”

In the past few years, Triggy’s own artistry has gained momentum, which brings us to her latest series: SMILE. The series is a response to societal pressure for women to put on a mask—oftentimes a smile—despite the reality of their personal lives. Triggy was inspired by watching old-school television shows like Leave it to BeaverThe Jeffersons, and Good Times, where women were either portrayed in very one-dimensional roles or were faced with challenging the status quo. As Triggy remembers in The Jeffersons and Good Times in particular, “These shows depicted women of color in a light that had not previously been shown on primetime TV, with restrictions to the gender roles seen at that time.”

According to Triggy, for many multi-faceted women, herself included, it takes courage to wake up, face the day, and pursue your purpose – and that shouldn’t come with the added pressure of maintaining a façade. “Life isn’t always pretty. My message is to stop telling us what to do with our faces – we are already enough without having to add a smile.”

Soon her work will be on display at Lambert. The exhibit will feature six local African American women who were nominated for the portraiture, representing activists, leaders, and educators who are working to bring positive change to St. Louis, and particularly for the black community. In capturing their images, Triggy aims to also capture their “why”—the inner courage these women have to be a positive force in the community.

We applaud Triggy’s own courage in pursuing her passion and telling the stories of women who are making a difference in St. Louis. Her series will be on display starting in March of 2019. You can check out Triggy’s ongoing work on her Instagram page and DM her for pricing. She’s also available by email at formulasvn@gmail.com.