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#LCFBHM: Petra Raissa Nogueira - [Black is] Light

Black and orange collage with images of draping
  • Written byLubna Hussain
  • Published date 14 October 2022
Black and orange collage with images of draping
Black and orange collage with images of draping | Petra Raissa Nogueira

Petra Raissa Nogueira [she/her]; is an artist/designer [as well as an activist, critical thinker, cultural producer, dreamer, and researcher], born, bred, and based in London. Recently, graduated from London College of Fashion in BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development.

We spoke with Petra about her graduate project, where she explores a concept titled ‘[Black is] Light’ in relation to Black History Month.

The [Black is] Light collection is a source, a sign of deep cultural individualism, a symbol of great light paying homage to the legacy of Black culture's individualism and vocabulary. Combining the [contrasting] ideas [by definition] to explore the holistic essence of Blackness that ignites strong expressions that are deeply radiant.

The title of the project is very important to me both conceptually and directly as it defines what Black culture means to me, especially when challenging languages by reclaiming and reframing literal definitions and codes as artist agency.

I’d hope viewers are able to connect with the project on a deeper level that inspire critical conversations, liberated imaginings, multifaceted understanding; that aids the discourse of the ever-evolving position of Blackness within and outside our communities.

Collage of patterns, colours and design ideas
Collage of patterns, colours and design ideas | Petra Raissa Nogueira

The project concerns itself with themes of Black consciousness, culturalism, individualism, and vocabulary; I chose to explore these ideas as a means of reflection, preservation and communication of humanity; at a time of unstable actuality.

I turned to the vitality present in creative materials, the reality and its freedoms, to vocalise sustainable imaginings and expose a thoughtful autonomy. When I started collecting and putting together my ideas for the project; Black consciousness, culturalism, individualism and vocabulary became the project’s fundamentals. In the sense of separable speculations; because Black as a race; Black as a culture; Black as a consciousness; Black as a vocabulary – are all very different things and very individual yet clustered together under Blackness and I think language, whether written, sonic, or visual; is a very important tool for those investigations.

Ultimately, it wasn’t so much about what they represent but rather delving into diasporic matter to support these critical themes; acted as a restorative practise where I could assert, reclaim, and envision raised respect and values towards Black identities, philosophies, emotional/physical resonances and truth through the conceptual collection.

Collage of inspirations and colour palette
Collage of inspirations and colour palette | Petra Raissa Nogueira

Being a Black creative changes daily. It really depends how you choose to cultivate yourself. But to me it means being rich, intense, indigenous, rare, progressive, radiant, soulful, grounded, conscious and ultra. In the sense of being nourished in a multifaceted identity, thoughts, realities, and spirit.

The lexicon of being a Black creative is infinite to me, and it is something I cherish deeply because there’s no other way I would want to exist. So, as a Black creative I constantly explore, reflect, build and play with my heritage and culture; subjectively, purposefully and actionably in my work, as enactable development, restoration, autonomy, visibility and truth.

Collage of inspiration: book, text extract, images, shapes
Collage of inspiration: book, text extract, images, shapes | Petra Raissa Nogueira

In producing my final collection, I encountered so many challenges, actually my health was my main challenge, which was critical at the time. When navigating my usual working habits, it made producing really hard in general.

However, I wanted to do what I could with whatever I could pull together. I had to pivot and make appropriate decisions based on the time I had. For example: I wanted my whole collection to be made from organic fabrics and processes, and this took a lot of time, in terms of research and application and finally realising I could not gain access to all the resources. So, I had to expand my options to include recycled and deadstock alternatives to be practical, because it would’ve been too expensive for me to carry on. Again, not everything goes the way you plan; so being adaptable, resourceful, and determined was how I overcame the challenges.

Images of material being designed in different ways and sketches of ideas
Images of material being designed in different ways and sketches of ideas | Petra Raissa Nogueira
Collage of final collection with description of materials
Collage of final collection with description of materials | Petra Raissa Nogueira

My hopes and plans for life after graduation is to really understand how to exist away from institutional traditions. Even though I’d like to pursue a Master’s in womenswear in the future - I want to use this newfound freedom to figure how I’d like to operate as an artist/designer independent from education/industry because I have never had the time to do that – so I am forcing myself to find modes of working in my practise that are healthy for me.

Right now, I am pursuing an entrepreneurial journey, building my own company – gaining development/ business skills to compliment my creative skills. Ultimately, I am trying new things, trying to enter new spaces with my work and work towards possibly creating a solo exhibition; around my graduate collection theme, in hopes of a final showcase that I feel the project deserves.