The following feature appears in the August 2016 issue of NYLON.
“Right now, I’m working on a zine with my friend about emotions and crying,” says Rewina Beshue. It’s not what you’d expect to hear from the upbeat 23-year-old art student whose bright, energetic graphic aesthetic has already led to shows at the likes of Alt Space gallery in Brooklyn, and whose signature look has attracted modeling and sponsorship gigs from brands such as Levi’s and UNIF. “I know, it’s so weird, but I’m a closeted emotional,” she admits. “You will not see me cry. I only cry to my family and they think I’m a crybaby. I’m still trying to figure that out, so I’m putting it into a zine to define different emotions and how we can all understand each other.”
It’s a Tuesday morning and Beshue is enjoying some pancakes at San Francisco’s oldest ice cream parlor (which is now more of a full-service diner), St. Francis Soda Fountain. She’s sporting pin-laden denim overalls, an athletic-striped UNIF top, Doc Martens, and a neckerchief. “Social media has helped me come out of my shell,” Beshue explains of her rise to fame on Instagram, where she posts images of her work alongside shoe pics and selfies under the handle @rgb_. “I’m naturally a shy person when it comes to showing people my art. It’s easy to show my work to my friends, but a good response from strangers motivates me. Criticism doesn’t always work well for me, even though I have African parents and they’re always quick to criticize me on anything! ‘Rewina, your pants are too short, your hair is too long….’”
Beshue’s mother and father both emigrated from the same Ethiopian region to North America separately and found each other after a couple of (pre-digital age) missed connections. They raised her and her three siblings in Section 8 housing in San Francisco’s Fillmore district, once the center of the city’s jazz scene, but they didn’t take to their daughter’s artistic endeavors right away. “In third grade, we learned about a tribe from the Stone Age and we had to draw a booklet about them. I took it so seriously—I got colored pencils from the corner store and went in on my book,” she recalls. “That summer, we got a message on the answering machine from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. They got a hold of my booklet from school and wanted to put it in a kid’s art show. I didn’t know what a kid’s art show was, and my parents definitely didn’t, so they were like, delete!”
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