Deonna Craig

Kenneth L. Woods 
︎ Indianapolis

Deonna Craig is an Indianapolis based visual artist and art instructor. She graduated from DePauw University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Sociology. After 15 years in Corporate America, Deonna’s creativity and love for adventure led her to pursue art full-time. As an entrepreneur, Deonna pursues her passions of community building, teaching, public speaking and visual art. Her artwork has been featured in various museums and galleries such as Newfields, Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis Art Center, Indianapolis Children's Museum and the Indianapolis International Airport. Deonna is the 2021-2022 Visiting Artist at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum and the 2020-2021 Virtual Resident Artist at The Madam Walker Legacy Center.

Kenneth L. Woods: How would you describe yourself as an artist?

Deonna Craig: I would describe myself as an abstract artist. I leave nuggets of thoughts and sequences for other people to interpret. I paint from my dream journal and my travel journal a lot. I feel as though I download things many people are able to connect to, so I also identify as a storytelling artist. Just taking into account the different patterns, sequences, and synchronicities that I come into contact with and opening up those realms of conversations with other people, it all comes out in my art.

KW: Can you break down the process of painting from your dream journal? How does that work?

DC: It looks like craziness to other people, but to me it makes perfect sense. I do a lot of vivid dreaming and my dream journal consists of everything from words to images to colors. I might dream about something and everything in it is yellow. Then I wonder what I should derive from all this yellow. Should I be looking into chakra work, or maybe this isn’t a message for me but for the person who buys it. I also like to look at the trajectory and journey of my artwork, because it’s always telling a story.

KW: How does your art stand out amongst the many artists in Indianapolis? How can someone look at this and say, “ I know Deonna Craig painted that?”

DC: I think it comes down to a couple of things. I use a lot of bold colors and paint whimsical or quirky things. I get a lot from my childhood memories and nostalgia, so if people get transported back to their childhood self, it’s probably one of my pieces. I always like to step back into times when we were our most pure, natural selves and thoughts. I bring that out in my pieces to get conversations started. It’s probably the color choice and subject matter that tell people it’s my work.

KW: You recently had a show, COMPENDIUM at the Madame Walker Legacy Institute, where you serve as a Virtual Artist in Residence. What does the title mean and why did you choose it?

DC: A compendium is a compilation of subject matter that you feel comfortable talking about. A compendium could be a book, like a cookbook is a compendium about food.For me, the compendium of art I did for this show surrounds ancient art. I have pieces there that bring all things ancient art into one place, and that’s why I called it COMPENDIUM. So you can look at things from spirituality to metaphysics to travel, and it’s all derived from ancient art. That’s a really big foundation of my work. I wanted to open people’s eyes to explore why ancient art is important to me and how it can be beneficial to others.

KW: Your description of the exhibit states that it features a series of works that reimagine ancient art forms in the modern era. What were some of the ancient art forms that you were reimagining and why did you choose those?

DC: In this case, I’ll talk about my travel journal because I used either things that I’ve seen in my travels or things that are coming up in 2023. In this case, I did a lot of research on the Nazca Lines in Peru, which is like an ancient airport. I did a lot of research on the aboriginal people of Australia and ancient art and petroglyphs there. I actually wrote a grant to travel next year to actually look, see, and feel what I’ve been researching for the past five or six years. I’ll be traveling around the world next year seeing what I’ve been painting about. The Giza Pyramids and pyramids in Egypt. I use historical points and landmarks in my painting, so I’m able to teach children about different historical points and landmarks from all over the world.

KW: One of the pieces that stood out to me was ANCESTOR STIMULATION (2021). What can you tell us about that piece?

DC: I created it in 2021 for an art show at the Indianapolis Art Center and I wanted to marry the thought of “What were people thinking about 5,000 years ago when they were creating art?” What did society look like and how did people treat each other? What were they thinking about when they etched this artwork into caves or rocks?” But I wanted to put vibrant and contemporary colors into an old thought because the sun has caused old work to fade. ANCESTOR STIMULATION is showing a woman coming through a portal, but you don’t know if she is from the future or the past or both. It’s using the thought, “ if at some point we are so advanced in time that we are able to shoot ourselves into the future and look back into the past”. Are we in the future or are we in the past? This big beautiful woman is coming through the portal to bring that thought to your mind.

KW: How does ANCESTOR STIMULATION fit within the overall theme of COMPENDIUM? It seems like you are telling a story, where does she fit?

DC: She’s the exclamation point at the end. I curated this exhibit to tell a story. In the beginning, there are just monoliths and big pieces of rock, really singular pieces. As you travel along the exhibit the colors get brighter and she’s at the end. I use the image of excavating a cave and brushing away the dirt to see the whole finished image. With this exhibit, you travel through the monoliths, petroglyphs, and even the hieroglyphs I put into the painting. Then you see her at the end and wonder, “Is she trying to tell me something? Maybe I need to go back and look at everything again.”

KW: What are some final words you have for our readers? What are some things you want  people to take away from your art and your journey?

DC: I try really hard to live in flow, meaning I do a lot based on my gut feeling. I really want people to tap into their gut feelings.You have to push out a lot of the stuff that doesn’t matter, and get in touch with what does matter to you.The reason I think it’s important, and why I’m closing on that, is because that’s how I found art, peace, and happiness. Once I found those things I started seeing that I was inspiring other people and I didn’t even know it, I wasn’t even trying. I was just being me, but other people started living in flow and identifying what really makes them happy. It was like this “tag you're it” kind of situation. My conduit is art, that’s my skill set, that's how I do it, but everyone’s not an artist. Find your thing, you have no idea what doors will open.
A highly textured and abstracted painting of a figure’s head with a blue complexion in front of a mass of different shapes of color including gold, teal, orange, and gray. THROUGH THE STARGATE (2021), mixed media on canvas

An abstracted painting of a figure with a medium dark skin tone in front of a background of a loose grid and many 1’s and 0’s, and who wears an elaborate and flowing garment that seems to be made up largely of QR codes.

ANCESTOR SIMULATION (2021), mixed media on canvas

A highly textured and abstracted painting that resembles a landscape with a red circle in the top left, above what could be buildings, with many messy shapes in a grid of blue, white, and black, like windows, and above a rough section below of green and red, like the ground.
BRIDGE TO DREAM (2021), acrylic on canvas



Kenneth L. Woods (he/him), AKA “KennyFresh,” is a spoken word artist, writer, poet and author. He’s been servicing both Indiana and Louisville, KY for the past decade. Kenneth partners with non-profit organizations, businesses, and individuals to use the gift of poetry and spoken word to help others creatively tell their stories. In his spare time, Kenneth enjoys reading, hanging out with his pet tarantula, listening to music, and photography.

RUCKUS, 2018-2023
Louisville, KY