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We Roam Freely: Creating space for women and non-binary artists of color


In the midst of attempting to get her artwork showcased in galleries, Tiye Bazzey, founder and executive director of We Roam Freely, became aware of the barriers that artists of color face when trying to get their artwork displayed.

“In getting my work in galleries, a lot of white spaces, a lot of male spaces, or white female spaces…I felt like my work wouldn’t really be represented and I think a lot of my peers were facing those similar challenges as well,” Bazzey said.

Tiye Bazzey, founder and executive director of We Roam Freely

As a way to fight against the inequalities artists of color face, Bazzey was inspired to create We Roam Freely in April of 2019 to help women and non-binary artists of color showcase and sell their work.

“Not only is it difficult to get in these spaces, but even just having that education to create or access to materials… is often inaccessible,” Bazzey said. “I wanted to create an organization that is like a redistribution of funds.”

We Roam Freely currently hosts events where artists can accessibly showcase their work, gives grants to artists for supplies, is attempting to work with other organizations to sponsor artists for months-long residencies, and has a podcast.

Alongside Bazzey, We Roam Freely is staffed with four other employees. Three of whom are interns and the fourth being Kalin Brown, the director and secretary of the organization.

Kalin Brown, the director and secretary of We Roam Freely

Brown began working for We Roam Freely after meeting Bazzey at an art exhibition. She is in charge of the upcoming webinars that will be posted to their YouTube channel as well as coordinating future art showcases.

Brown hopes that the webinars become something that is easily accessible for artists in order to grow their careers.

“This is going to be that one-stop shop for everything and we’re going to be breaking it down into sections,” Brown said. “If you are interested in…how to make a portfolio then you know that you’re going to…watch these set of videos and that’s going to help [you]  and give [you]  another insight and education towards it.”

Brown also highlighted the importance of the organization being there for artists not just physically but emotionally as well and “not just be like, okay, here’s some money and here’s an opportunity.”

For artists like Urban Jungle (Caleb Williams), We Roam Freely has become a platform where she could easily showcase her artwork to a new audience.

“We Roam Freely allowed me as an emerging artist to not only showcase my work to a new virtual audience but also connect with other artists. The company also allows for art opportunities that are hard to receive or qualify for at other art institutions,” Williams said. “Overall the company is creating a safe space to help women and non-binary artists of color that tend to get overlooked.”

Images of an art exhibition hosted by We Roam Freely (photos provided by Bazzey)

In the future, both Bazzey and Brown hope to get a physical space where they can give artists the tools to work on their pieces and eventually showcase their work in hopes to propel them into a successful career.

Due to the pandemic, the organization has been unable to host art shows, which is where they get the bulk of their fundraising. Because of this, they are currently crowdfunding so that they can continue to give the needed resources to women and non-binary artists of color to make a lasting impact.

“At the core of it, We Roam Freely is really about being your truest self and doing that thing that you’ve always wanted to do…Now it’s how do we allow for artists to do that without any true barriers,” Bazzey said.

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