Sukenya Best was born in New York City, where her origins in visual art, faith in God, dance, and cultural community festivals began. In the 90s her family moved to Richmond Virginia, which has been her home for over 20 years. She took art lessons in all of her schools to eventually receive a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2001. As an undergraduate student she studied Baroque art history in London, Europe. During that trip she observed first-hand paintings by Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Frans Hals; which sparked her current practice of portrait painting. She also traveled to Zimbabwe, Africa, to study drawing and batik making. There she experienced a rich culture and an appreciation for fabric designs. When she attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (earned a M.F.A in 2007) she continued to explore printmaking on fabric with the combination of dance and music.
In between her undergraduate and graduate studies, Sukenya has always enjoyed working with the youth. She taught art classes to various ages for her local faith community, the Latin Ballet of Virginia, Richmond’s Department of Parks and Recreation afterschool program, Art 180, Reynold’s Community College, and Virginia Union University. In her pieces you often see young people of color spiritually protected and capable of carrying the armor of God. The younger children have inspired her the most with their energy, imagination, and playfulness. During this time of racial injustice and civil unrest, it is especially important for Sukenya create artwork that is vibrant, piercing and imaginative, to inspire others to continue dreaming.
When Sukenya is painting with watercolor she gravitates towards luminous colors and expressive brush strokes. Her tools are sometimes untraditional so that she can get a spattered or textured effect. In her acrylic paintings she works to combine a Baroque style with an expressive background. In both mediums she subtly puts text into the composition to capitalize on faith and dreams. Artists that have inspired her current work are Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett, John Biggers, Emma Amos, and Kerry James Marshall.
Sukenya currently works at the VMFA as an On the Road Coordinator, where she travels around Virginia on an artmobile.