John W. Bateman
I’d heard of Divian, before I met her, through a mutual high school friend. When I first met this astounding, creative, wearing a black wide-brimmed hat and large sunglasses at Nine-twenty Nine, I knew we had to talk about her work. You may know her father, Dr. Douglas Conner, who was the first African-American physician in Oktibbeha County and, at one time, the only medical provider for the black community. Divian is a tremendous talent in her own right. Here’s a bit of our recent conversation about her art, the creative process, and life in Starkville.
You told me when we first met that you are putting together a fine arts exhibit. What is that going to be? There are two things I want to do: one is an exhibit of children. The other is a “Faces of Starkville.” Show real people. The nitty gritty.
I’d love to see a Faces of Starkville exhibit. What do you think the arts community needs?
More shows and exhibits. I want to see more art of all types. Music. Everything. Work different from mine. I encourage my kids to try new things, whether food or activities. Step outside the box. Have fun - we have murder mystery dinner parties and you have to come in costume. I want my children to be more accepting of diversity, so I start with food. I figure if they start by being open to new foods, then they’ll be open to people who are different from them.
Do you have any advice for a young artist who is starting out? You define you. Don’t allow someone else to define you. Their likes and dislikes are not yours. Do what makes you happy. I think people want to change who they are, because they think that’s gonna make them successful. Really, success is about being true and consistent to who you are.
If you’d like to see more of Divian’s work, you can find her on Instagram, or online here or even here… (meanwhile, I’ll be working on an invitation to these murder mystery dinners).