Fashion Visionary Demeatria Boccella
Demeatria Gibson Boccella supports creative excellence by pursuing fresh ideas and programmatic innovation. She instigates, commissions, convenes and otherwise seeks to build communities at the intersection of arts conceptualization, funding, management, performance and education.
In her role as Director of Grants Programs for the Multicultural Arts Initiative (MCAI) at The Pittsburgh Foundation, Ms. Boccella honed her abilities to secure material and political support for the arts, to connect artists and educators, and to engage wider circles of interest in a conversation about the role of the arts in sustaining communities.
For the G20 Summit in 2009, Ms. Boccella was chosen as a consultant to assemble a diverse group of Pittsburgh’s finest artists to present to the White House. Key to her understanding of the interplay between art, artists, support networks and culture are her ongoing endeavors as a consultant and entrepreneur.
As founder of Utopia Model Agency and FashionAFRICANA, Ms. Boccella is focused on Broadening the Standard of Beauty and cultivating a more life-giving and globally aware approach to African-inspired fashion and culture. Ms. Boccella conceived of Utopia as a response to limiting and narrow portrayals of black beauty and fashion.
Ms. Boccella provides the artistic vision for FashionAFRICANA, which has grown from a regional event to one with national and international reach and appeal. Over the years, she has created a platform for people of color in fashion and the arts from around the world and persistently broadened FashionAFRICANA’s appeal and reach to include such diverse elements of the African experience as the Lost Boys of Sudan and the 2009 opening event of the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Fashion designers, musicians, filmmakers and many other artists have joined the FashionAFRICANA fold.
As part of Ms. Boccella’s community engagement efforts, she created The Utopia Project, a fashion program designed to empower youth with knowledge of how art and commerce function together in the field of fashion.
Ms. Boccella received her Bachelor of Arts from Carlow University.
Visit Demeatria Gibson Boccella 's website for more information about her work:
What led to the creation of FashionAfricana and Utopia Model Agency?"As a person of African descent, I had a desire, as a young person, to become a model and grew increasingly frustrated with the limiting and narrow portrayals of models of color in some of my favorite fashion magazines. Therefore, I co-founded Utopia Model Agency with my partner Darnell McLaurin in 1999 with the mission of "Broadening The Standard of Beauty" by cultivating a more life-giving and globally aware approach to fashion, beauty and culture.
In 2001, I created FashionAFRICANA to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the African Diaspora through Design, Dance and Music. I am very passionate about fashion and the arts - and the need to promote diversity in both worlds. The intent of FashionAFRICANA is to share the breadth and richness of African textures, ethos and history through the language of fashion."
How has the work itself and the need for the two evolved through the years?"We have realized that our work with Utopia goes beyond just providing model representation. We have done a lot of personal work with our models over the years to include one-on-one mentoring and personal development around self-love and acceptance. Also, with FashionAFRICANA, it has evolved to the point where now we are bringing together top artists and designers, whose paths may not cross, to create and present new work."
What are your sources of inspiration/ influences that come through in FashionAfricana shows?"The African Diaspora is my source of inspiration. I am inspired by its beauty, people and rhythm. I love using fashion as a medium through which to share our stories."
What role does/ can fashion play in fostering social change?"I believe the industry can have a huge impact on the self-esteem of young Black women and how they formulate their ideas on beauty."
What legacy do you want to leave behind via the work of Fashion Africana and Utopia?"I hope that my work as an advocate for diversity in both fashion and the arts can be a catalyst for change within our communities; I want to increase opportunities for fashion designers, models, and artists of color."